Since I came to know The Lord Jesus at the age of seventeen, my life has been a journey focused on heaven. Though there have been times of trial and hardship, His joy has always brought me through victorious. Along the journey from time to time, He has afforded me the exceeding joy of experiencing a little taste of Heaven here on earth.
Though I am sure that all of these will pale when one day I experience Him in all His glory. But, as I look forward to that I press on eager to share with others His wonderful love for them.
I shall not try to share all of the instances of my tastes of heaven in this blog. But, I shall begin to share. And from time to time I shall share more as our journey continues.
The beginning experience of Jesus coming into my life is truly the apex of encountering heaven. I shall cover that in a blog all to itself, though I doubt that any one blog could suffice.
One thing that seems to be consistent in my encounters with heaven is music. Music became the avenue by which I grew into experiencing a little heaven on earth. I always enjoyed singing, but it was merely the secular songs of the era I grew up in. But, when Jesus took over my life, my taste in music was changed. Not that one particular genre was preferred over another. What became preferred was excellence in music.
Though I had been singing since I could walk, it was just something I did. My mother made me take piano lessons from the second grade through the seventh. But I did it just to please her. Along with those I learned to play the clarinet in the band at school. After the seventh grade, I talked my mother into letting me drop the piano lessons. I still continued to play in the band and sing in the choir at church.
Through these experiences, I was exposed to some level of excellence. But, it was not a motivating factor. Then, at the age of seventeen everything changed. I had a life-changing encounter with the living Lord Jesus. Without going into particulars, it was an experience that was as if I was dead and became alive. I had been in darkness and now the light was shining. The scriptures said it best. I became a new creation in Christ Jesus. Old things were gone and everything was brand new.
Now the goal was not just to get by and exist. I was no longer in competition with others. The goal was to show my love for the One Who made it possible for me to live an abundant life. By that, I mean real life. Too often we equate possessions and position with abundance. Real life comes from the source and giver of life. I experienced that and my life would never be as it had been.
That was my beginning of experiencing heaven. Everything in heaven is excellent. The scripture said it this way: O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your Name in all the earth. Our Creator is worthy of nothing less than excellence in all that we do. I must admit that I have not attained that level in this life, yet. But, like the apostle Paul, I press on toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Excellence is always the goal, though it is not always attained.
There are some genres of music that do not lend themselves to excellence. I’ll not be the definer of those. I believe they are self-evident. For me, those forms more aligned with classical music were those that promised excellence. So, my desire focused on developing my talent in those areas.
A side note.
Before Jesus came into my life, I wanted to be an athlete. But, when Jesus took over, my goal now was to serve Him eternally. I could not find any area of sports that would allow for an eternity of service to my Savior. But, as I studied the scriptures, I found the vocation that would allow that. Music! In Revelation, we find that there will be continual praise and worship going on in heaven. Yes, I could be part of that, beginning right now and continuing for eternity.
I mentioned earlier that the classical music forms were more conducive to the excellence I sought. That is not to say that some other forms cannot be done in an excellent manner. There are country/western Christian songs that are sung in an excellent manner and some that are not. The areas of spiritual and folk songs have many singers of excellence. A couple of genres that do not tend to excellence are “rock” and jazz. There are a few performers that overcome that mold though.
I believe you can see where I am coming from.
My first taste of musical heaven
Apart from my “new birth” experience, my first taste of a little bit of heaven” came in the youth choir. Mr. Carroll Lowe was the minister of music at First Baptist Church in Pineville, LA. (I am not promoting any denomination, just telling my story.)
Mr. Lowe, as we all affectionately addressed him, was an excellent musician. He had a pleasing voice, though not necessarily a solo voice. But his real musical talent was as a choir director. He knew how to translate what the composer was seeking to present in his composition.
When the Lord Jesus came into my life, I immediately wanted to join the adult choir. I was a member of the youth choir already. But, the adult choir got to sing every Sunday. Plus, they did excellent music. Every Thursday evening I was in adult choir practice for almost two hours.
Then on Sunday afternoons, I was in the Youth Choir for an hour.
Under Mr. Lowe’s leadership, I was beginning to experience excellence in singing for my Lord, Jesus.
Gone were the days of wanting to be an athlete. I wanted to sing for my Lord.
For the next two years, we grew in the excellence of serving our Lord.
A great honor
What an honor it was for Mr. Lowe and the Youth Choir ministry when we were invited to sing at a premier gathering of musicians. That gathering was at Glorieta, NM. For a whole week, musicians from Baptist churches all over the nation came together. Of all the churches to choose from, our youth choir from First Baptist in Pineville was chosen. I am sure there were a lot of good programs, but ours was chosen to come.
In preparation for the trip, we had to learn a full concert filled with quality music. On the way to Glorieta, we sang three concerts at other churches. Then, while at Glorieta, we sang our full concert for several thousand people who were in attendance. This is not to brag about our ability. But, the goal was to lift up our Lord Jesus and to do it in an excellent manner.
What joy it was as we experienced the fellowship in our Lord Jesus as we prepared and presented music that was excellent.
We all experienced a little taste of heaven
As we prepared and presented this excellent music, I experienced a little taste of heaven. As I continued to grow in my music the more I saw why God has planned so much of heaven to be music. The more I advance in my growth in Christ, the more my joy of excellent music grows.
My hope for you
Excellent music allows us to begin to experience a little bit of heaven right here on earth. I hope that you have participated in singing or producing excellent music in your life. If you have not produced it, I hope you have an appreciation for excellence in music.
I am reminded of what a great friend of mine once told me. He had not grown up in an atmosphere of excellence, especially in music. His taste of music was nowhere near refined. But, then he came to know the Lord Jesus. One day on the job, I was playing a CD that had great operatic arias. This young man was enthralled by the music. I asked him where he developed a taste for opera with the background he had. His reply was a joyful confirmation of what Jesus does in one’s life. He said that when Jesus came into his life he learned to appreciate excellence in things. And this singer and his songs were excellent. His love of excellence was translated into every area of his life.
Someday it will not just be a taste but will be the marriage feast of the Lamb. I am looking forward to it and I am sharing the invitation with as many people as I can.
There will be more “tastes” to come in the coming days. Come back to this site from time to time.
Here is just a little “taste” of what I experienced as a growing child of God. This was the prayer song of the Youth Choir of 1965 that went to Glorieta, NM.
PRAYER BEFORE SINGING