Heaven is a Place on Earth

November 17, 2014

Reblogged from: Todd Rossnagel 

This past weekend I attended another Kairos retreat and I could go on and on about some of the miracles myself and the team witnessed inside Angola State Penitentiary.
 
While this story wouldn’t amount to a miracle, it’s most certainly an incredibly rich twist of irony and fate or, as we Christians would describe it, the true handiwork of God.
 
On every Kairos retreat, there is a special moment on Saturday evening where we get a chance to write down all of the people we’re holding in unforgiveness on a single piece of paper. 
 
Once that list is complete, (and it takes us all day to complete the list…because…you know…forgiveness is tough stuff) we proceed to the prison yard to place the lists in an urn and burn them.
 
It’s a powerful and symbolic exercise in giving those matters that are poisoning us to the ultimate healer.
 
As one of our team members correctly pointed out, “Unforgiveness is like a poison that we keep swallowing, but we expect the other person to die.”
 
Every forgiveness burn is powerful and unique to each team, but this particular burn was made special by some cheesy 80′s music.
 
As we strolled out to the yard, the radio in the hobby shop was on and it was loud – very loud.
 
In fact, several of us tried to get the attention of security to see if the radio could be turned off altogether or, at the very least, turned down.
 
After all, this was a holy moment and 80′s pop music is…well…it’s 80′s pop music for crying out loud!
 
In the end, there was just no way the radio would get turned down and I was irritated that our a holy moment was being covered with the soundtrack of my youth.
 
Besides, many of the names on my list (we go through the exercise too) were from the 80′s and here I was trying to release those moments.
 
But I settled in, relaxed and slowly paid attention to the song that was rudely interrupting our ceremony.
 
It was Belinda Carlisle’s 1987 hit, “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”.
 
Very rarely am I 100% sure of things in life, but I am 100% sure Belinda Carlisle did not write that song for prisoners and their exercise in forgiveness.
 
But God has a wonderful sense of humor and can use anything – including 80′s music.
 
As the song blared on the radio, I was immediately struck by the obvious reference to “heaven on Earth”, but then I listened more intently to the lyrics and knew God wanted that song to play at that moment.
 
As the flame grew and the smoke billowed above the yard, Belinda sang these fitting words to us:
When I feel alone
I reach for you
And you bring me home
When I’m lost at sea
I hear your voice
And it carries me
In this world we’re just beginning
To understand the miracle of living
Baby I was afraid before
But I’m not afraid anymore
Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth?
Ooh heaven is a place on earth
Prior to our Kairos weekend, the prisoners at Angola “felt alone” but the love of Christ was brought to them and with a lot of work and a lot prayer, they “reached for Him” and Christ did indeed “bring them home”.
 
And for many of them, they are “just beginning to understand the miracle of living”, but today they are “not afraid anymore” because Saturday night, heaven was indeed a place on Earth!