When I sing songs about standing before God's throne, or entering His courts, or being in His presence, I see myself running late for a time of heavenly worship and proceeding to the very last row. In fact, when I am viewing this image I often see that I am crawling to my place in the huge hall and wishing God would not notice me. Kind of like the daughter who got in way past her curfew, tiptoeing through the living room and hoping to get to the stairs unnoticed.
As if that were possible. God not noticing me, that is. But that is a recurring image. Usually I would be carrying heavy stuff - musical instruments, song sheets, journals, bibles, notepads, pens, fans, and every other load for the whole congregation - and I would see myself trying to avoid making a noise or inviting attention to myself. Good thing that this always takes place in heaven, where the others with me would be fixing their eyes on Jesus and His majesty, and not being disturbed, really, by my lateness. Or my extra luggage.
Last Sunday, I modified the image. Well, it was probably a daydream by then, because while we were singing during mass, I saw myself playing the guitar, again in the Worship Hall in Heaven, but from the very back. It was a glaring image of my feeling of unworthiness. In my limited imagination, I could only see the Catholic saints surrounding the Throne, followed by the good people - the missionaries, the priests, the nuns, the teachers, the mothers, and the fathers. In that hierarchy, the humble, selfless, and generous people would be on the next circle, and so on and so forth. I would be grateful just to be in the same room as those souls. But I would be playing music, faintly, from my inconspicuous spot. It is a daydream because I play the piano and not the guitar, although I own two of the latter.
The image, or the vision, depending on who sees it, has stayed with me for several days now. Me, wanting to be close to God, but thinking I do not deserve to be in His presence. And the growing answer within me is that God is not like that. Or heaven would not be exactly like that.
God would know where I am at any point in time, so it would be useless, really, to try to enter the Hall unnoticed. Like what I do some Sundays when I am not serving for mass and I get delayed by some trivial thing.
God is inviting me to sit close to Him. Or wherever I am in the room, I would feel His presence and His love, which is no less than the love He has for the saints and the angels. In fact He is said to rejoice at every sinner who turns away from their evil ways. So it is possible that I would bring joy to my Heavenly Father just by trying to be with Him even with all my baggage and distractions.
A long time ago, I thought I would be in Row 1 in heaven. Regular confession and daily communion. Service that cost blood, sweat, and tears. Lengthy prayer time. Spiritual books and music, alone. Spiritual friends all around me.
But I have stumbled and continue to do so. Christian life has become more meaningful when I acknowledged my weaknesses and imperfections. Right now I see myself, the times when I think I would be able to enter Heaven at all, on the very Last Row. But it should not matter. It does not matter.
Because God sees me and is with me even when I am on the Last Row.
"And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Lk 13:30, ESV)