What wonders must have captivated the heart of this sweet and chaste young girl as she pondered this magnificent child from heaven? While the story of the nativity is well-known to many of us, it was unfolding in real time for Mary and Joseph. Try to imagine this scene with the fresh eyes of this young couple before and after the young Christ-child was born. What were they thinking? What were they feeling? What was it that Mary pondered and kept in her heart. The visit from the eager and adoring shepherds was the exclamation point on a story that had been being told for thousands of years and was coming to a climax in their very lives.
Young John Newton missed his father who was absent at sea for long periods of time. His mother was a godly woman who had hoped that John would someday study for the ministry. Her youthful death prevented her from ever learning about the man John would grow up to be. In many ways she was spared the sorrowful tears and broken heart of a mother whose son had strayed.
After her passing, John fell into the complete custody of his father and learned to live on the high seas. As a young man, he took up his father’s trade and forgot his mother’s wishes. Newton not only learned to sail but also took pride in being the vilest man on deck. His habits were so bad that even the sailors blushed at his presence.
Heaven captures the hopes and dreams of many curious people. Artistic depictions of heaven arouse our imagination. Poets and musicians have frequently plucked the tender strings of our hearts with their ballads of that seemingly faraway place.
The hope of heaven can be found in hearts the world over but our understanding of the afterlife is characterized by abstract questions. Where is heaven? What is heaven like? Do we become angels? Are there really streets of gold? What will we do in heaven? Will we eat? Will we sleep? Will we work and play?