Something happened to me lately that still amazes me. It lives inside me in the space where I hold my breath. It is something that speaks to me of faithfulness and of no thing being lost.

After the movie, O Brother Where Art Thou came out years ago, I used to love singing “I’ll Fly Away.” I would sing it around the house while I was working. The lyrics made me uncomfortable, but I loved the tune. Soon, though, our little girl, Joss, grew up from an infant to a 3 – 4 year old and I had to stop singing the song because whenever I sang it she would burst into tears. The lyrics bothered her deeply, especially hearing her mom sing them.

Her tears made me realize just how much I did not agree with the words of the song. I decided that I wanted to rewrite them so that they would reflect what I believed. Well. That was about 10 years ago and just last week, I finally rewrote them.

What brings me to awe is that I tried, off and on, during those years to change the lyrics and it never happened. It felt like wrestling a cat. Then our church had a season (just this last Spring) of looking at some passages in Revelation and gaining a new vision of worship. After that imagination expanding time I began to read N.T. Wright‘s Surprised by Hope. In it he shows how un-scriptural many hymns are in their imaging of heaven and earth and the time to come.

He writes that, “‘God’s kingdom’ in the preaching of Jesus refers not to postmortem destiny, not to our escape from this world into another one, but to God’s sovereign rule coming ‘on earth as it is in heaven.'”

That is a view that makes sense of why things matter here. To hold this view causes me to work, to live, to inhabit God’s kingdom now, here on earth; until it is as it is in heaven. N. T. Wright goes on to write that “Heaven, in the Bible, is not a future destiny but the other, hidden, dimension of our ordinary life — God’s dimension, if you like.” We live in time, but God lives outside of time and He is still present to what was, is now and is to come. Some day we will live outside of time as well; when he brings the fullness of His new creation about.

So these were all the ingredients stewing in the pot of my imagination when I went away to have some alone time at my parent’s cabin. Near the end of my time I sat down and lo and behold, I rewrote the lyrics for I’ll Fly Away. When I was done my scalp tingled and I felt like God and I had just had a jam session. I was experiencing his faithfulness. I was experiencing my faithfulness. We had been holding the desire to rewrite the lyrics and here they were. I felt like I was learning what ‘in the fullness of time’ means. I didn’t have what I needed all those years ago to write this, but through those years of learning and experience I gained what was necessary and was ready to write. I hope you enjoy these updated lyrics:

Heaven’s Come to Stay
Adaptation of “I’ll Fly Away” by Jaime Gjerdingen

Some bright morning when this time is over,
Heaven’s comin’ to stay;
Home will be through New Jerusalem’s doors,
Heaven’s comin’ to stay.

Heaven’s come to stay O Glory
Heaven’s come to stay (in the morning)
Even if we die, Halleluia, by and by,
Heaven’s come to stay.

When the shadows of this time have gone,
Heaven’s comin’ to stay;
We’ll be like birds from prison bars flown,
Heaven’s comin’ to stay. (Heaven’s come to stay…)

Oh how glad and happy when we meet,
Heaven’s comin’ to stay;
All those resting in eternal peace,
Heaven’s comin’ to stay. (Heaven’s come to stay…)

Just a few more weary days and then,
Heaven’s comin’ to stay;
We’ll be walkin’ New Jerusalem’s land,
Heaven’s comin’ to stay.