Paradise U

Enjoyed hovering over some thoughts from 2010 this morning after my readings. Took on a little deeper meaning now that we have someone “on campus” . . .

Let’s face it, for some, the university they graduated from is a pretty big deal. To be able to throw out phrases like “Harvard grad” or “Yale alum” as part of a resume is worn as a badge of honor for some. And it’s not just those from Ivy League schools. Around here, being a Cougar or a Husky can be a pretty important identifier. And, I’m guessing it’s not just about the education, but about the school’s reputation, as well. Whether that reputation is attached to a sports team, or some distinctive academic prestige, you find a fair number of folks well past “college age” still talking about “their school.” So did Paul . . .

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows–and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast . . .

(2Corinthians 12:2-5a ESV)

Paul did his graduate studies at GRSP, Gamaliel’s Rabbinical School of Phariseeism (Acts 22:3). There he learned the in’s and out’s of the law and the traditions of the religious elite. But his post-graduate studies, they occurred in a school that is out of this world . . . literally! Recruited by Jesus Himself, Paul was sent on a crash course concerning the mysteries of Messiah, and the grandeur of grace. He was welcomed into the faculty by the risen Christ as he trekked down a self-determined road of ignorance. And starting with their first encounter, the schooling began . . . “Who are You, Lord?” . . . “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). Lesson one complete, let’s move on. Or, should I say, let’s move up!

After being saved, instead of sending him to the apostles for instruction, the Lord instead sent Paul to Arabia–apparently for some “alone time” and some One-on-one tutoring. It would be three years before Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles (Gal. 1:16-18). (Hmm . . . three years with Jesus . . . sounds familiar).

And at some point during those three years, Paul’s “studies” took him to Paradise U located on a beautiful campus just past the Milky Way at the corner of Third Heaven and Eternity.

So what was that like? We really don’t know because, Paul says, it was inexpressible. It was so un-earthly that Paul wasn’t sure whether or not he was there “in body” or whether it was an “out of body” experience. The words he heard and the teachings he experienced couldn’t be conveyed in the languages of earth. It was the sort of close encounter that was better “felt than tell’t”. But whatever the curriculum, however the course material was presented, whoever comprised the teaching faculty, this alum of Paradise U was never the same again.

I don’t have much post-secondary education, but I’ve been accepted into Paradise U as well. A seat has been reserved, my name’s been written in a Book. And what never ceases to amaze me, is that I never even applied. Actually, I didn’t really know the place even existed. Yet, I was recruited too.

Where am I staying? In residence, a place that Jesus says He’s gone to prepare for me (John 14:3).

Tuition? Paid in full.

And now, I’m laying up treasures that I’ll be able to draw on when I get there. And that’s in addition to the inheritance reserved for me by my Benefactor, an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away (1Peter 1:4). And when I’m there, I too will hear and learn things which are unspeakable–mysteries revealed as I receive my “higher education.”

But as much as the thought of being on campus at Paradise U excites me and fills me with wonder, what I’m looking forward to more than anything else is my face-to-face meeting the Headmaster and His Father. I can only imagine what it will be like to hear His words and to learn from Him directly. I know I’ll be distracted from time to time by the scars on His hands and feet . . . and I’ll probably interrupt class periodically as I join in with the Third Heaven choral ensemble spontaneously declaring the praises of the Lamb . . . but I’m sure He’ll understand.

Cant’ wait for classes to start!

Because of His grace. For His glory.

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