This afternoon was one of those brilliant autumn days in Milwaukee where the sky was the deepest blue, and the yellow and red maples were at their most stunning. After church, Tom and I drove to the east side of Milwaukee on the shores of Lake Michigan.
We parked and took a walk along Lake Drive where the big mansions of some of Milwaukee’s early industrialists line the bluffs. Each mansion was unique and different. Some had big wrought iron gates and pristine lawns, others were closer to the street but loomed imposingly above us. There were Tudors and Mediterranean-style villas and enormous colonials and some were just vast piles of masonry with no identifiable architectural style. Each one seemed more beautiful than the next. (One that we walked past is pictured above. It’s the famous Uihlein mansion.) The lake just behind the mansions was as blue as I have ever seen it. Tom and I tried to pick out our favorites but failed. They were all too grand.
As we walked I asked Tom what he thought it might be like in heaven some day where Jesus said he is preparing “many mansions.” I pointed to a mansion in the distance. “There’s the mansion where Jonathan Edwards lives. And over there is Spurgeon’s. And there’s Luther’s and there’s St. Paul’s….” (I secretly hope that Wesley’s mansion is right next to Calvin’s and that Luther’s is next to Zwingli’s, but that’s another post!) I wondered aloud whether we will be able to knock on the doors of these heavenly mansions and speak with these faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who ran the race and prevailed by the blood of the Lamb. Imagine the questions we would ask.
What would it be like someday in heaven to speak with Moses and Joseph and Abraham? How about John the Baptist? Jeremiah? Elijah? Of one thing I am certain. The grandest mansion here on earth is beset with decay and deterioration. At its most beautiful, no mansion here could possibly compare with the glories of the place Jesus is preparing for those who love Him. What a place of beauty that must be where the light is the Son of God and where no sin or darkness can ever enter in.
Jerusalem the golden, with milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not, what joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare.
They stand, those halls of Zion, all jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel, and all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them, the daylight is serene.
The pastures of the blessèd are decked in glorious sheen.
There is the throne of David, and there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph, the song of them that feast;
And they, who with their Leader, have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever are clad in robes of white.
O sweet and blessèd country, the home of God’s elect!
O sweet and blessèd country, that eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest,
Who art, with God the Father, and Spirit, ever blessed.
–Bernard of Morlaix
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.