You know, aside from the gas money, I don’t mind my commute to and from work each day. The morning commute, especially, is a time when I can think, listen to music, and talk with my Dad. Today, I had a particularly interesting time of thought and meditation sparked by a song on my Spotify “Video Game Music” playlist.
As I pulled out of my daughters’ elementary school, I tapped shuffle play and waited to see what’d come up. The first song, a haunting and sad melody called “Lament of the High Born,” from World of Warcraft was the first track, but it was the second track that set my thoughts in motion. The song was “Baba Yetu,” an incredible, vocal track entirely in Swahili from the opening of the Civilization IV introduction. I’ve listened to this song countless times, either while actually playing Civilization or in this playlist. Listen to it yourself:
I listened closely to the vocals, with no idea what the lyrics were about, but began to think about some recent conversations Elizabeth and I have had about Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. As the the sounds of the singers filled my little car with passionate and moving words, I thought of the verse in Revelation that describes this scene:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10, NIV)
I imagine what Heaven will be like. I know it won’t be this boring and misguided vision we’ve been sold over the years of monotony, clouds, and harps. My God is a redeemer. He’s not just a redeemer of people, either, but a redeemer of art, music, culture, and so much more. I began to imagine what it might be like to be a part of a great celebration in Heaven. Perhaps there would be a Southern Gospel performance, afterwards, perhaps Switchfoot might lead the crowds in worship, and maybe the next world perform a song such as “Baba Yetu,” teaching us the lyrics in Swahili. (It’s not like we won’t have time to learn new languages!)
I was then reminded of some of C.S. Lewis’ writings on Heaven:
“In the truest sense, Christian pilgrims have the best of both worlds. We have joy whenever this world reminds us of the next, and we take solace whenever it does not.”
Heaven will be a place of ongoing celebration. A place of purpose. A place of meaning. My imagination continued to think about how this massive crowd might worship Jesus and celebrate that real, unending life He bought for us, as the song came to a close. “…every nation, tribe, people, and language.” Diversity unified.
I hit pause and let that simmer for a mile or so. How awesome. And then, I wondered… “I wonder what that song is really about?” So, I looked it up on Wikipedia and found the lyrics in Swahili and English. Again, I’ve heard this song countless times, but today was the first time I ever investigated the words. Look for yourself:
Baba yetu, Yetu uliye
Mbinguni yetu, Yetu amina!
Baba yetu Yetu uliye
Jina lako e litukuzwe.
Utupe leo chakula chetu
Makosa yetu, hey!
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe
Katika majaribu, lakini
Utuokoe, na yule, muovu e milele!
Ufalme wako ufike utakalo
Lifanyike duniani kama mbinguni. Amina.
Our Father, who art
in Heaven. Amen!
Hallowed be thy name.
Give us this day our daily bread,
Forgive us of
As we forgive others
Who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from the evil one forever.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.
…I see what you did there, God.