Wednesday, April 09, 2008


As a child, one of my occasional chores was to dust my parents' bedroom. I would "straighten" their dressers by stacking everything in neat little piles. (I think this annoyed my Mom a little, but overall she was thankful to have a layer of dust removed.) This habit of stacking continued into my adult life, with me embracing it as a way of organizing myself (sort of).

I am a stacker. (That's stacker, not slacker.) I'm looking around my office and am overwhelmed by all the stacks. Every room in my house seems to be overflowing with stacks. OK, it's not that bad, but it bugs me all the same. To kid myself that I am getting things done, I often rearrange the stacks. Or I throw things away that have been in the stack so long, they are no longer relevant. My desk is conveniently divided so that all my "work for hire" stacks are on the left and my personal business stacks on the right.

Here's the disturbing, recurring phenomenon I have discovered: Every time I make a dent in a stack, another 10 pieces of paper arrive at my house from 10 different directions.

I have made a few dents this week. I finally repaired my daughter's favorite pair of jeans. I opened a bank statement (and placed it on the right side of my desk). I read a letter from the little girl we sponsor in Tanzania (and placed it in the "mail I must attend to" pile in the kitchen). I put a box of Bibles in my car. THERE -- that last one is significant, because those Bibles will be given out and not return to my home (although new boxes will soon arrive from Mr. UPS man).

Do you suppose God is a stacker? Obviously, he has piles all over the place that need a little attention. Certainly, every time he makes a dent in one, another shows up on the radar screen. And he's been at this for more than 2,000 years. How exhausting!

Now I've come to learn that it's very likely that the stacks continue into the next life. I have been processing some theology this week that is new to me: that once we get to "heaven," we aren't done yet. We have to keep working on ourselves. Yes, the physical body is gone, but we continue to be in need of God's grace as we progress into the person God intends for us to be (presumably for the rest of eternity, give me strength!)

At first, the idea of these eternal stacks made me blow a circuit. "But I thought I'm supposed to fix what I can in this life, then get instant perfection in the next." I felt cheated and hopeless. It didn't sound like an enjoyable experience at all. Honestly, for the first time I found myself saying, "If that's what heaven is like, I'm not so sure I want to go there." That was probably the sentiment that blew my mind the most.

Here's how I've managed to resolve the issue in my brain for now (it's a stack I'll deal with more fully later). Any entry into heaven is a golden ticket, hands down, no doubt about it. Whatever I find is required of me, is still left to do "up there", is a part of God's perfect plan for my eternal life.

It's kind of like the signs you see in some restaurants: "We reserve the right to deny service to anyone." In other words, just walking through the door doesn't guarantee me anything. Besides, the more I try to analyze it with my human, pre-eternal mind, the more I realize that things likely won't work the same "up there." Thankfully, I think I've learned by the experiences of my friend Job that we can question God all we want, but there are many answers that God's not going to give us because we lack the cognitive ability to grasp them.

Stacks in heaven? OK, not exciting news at first, but interesting all the same. For some reason, I initially assumed it's going to be a bad thing. But as I churn the idea round and round, I have to ask myself, how can eternity with my Heavenly Father be a bad thing? It's not like I am going to be so presumptuous as to demand a better room. Like I said, any admittance to heaven is a golden ticket. I will take a deep breath, live the life God has for me here and trust that he has more good things for me "there," no matter what may be required to bring them about.

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