Eternity. Heaven. Home. Those are not just words in my Christian dictionary: they are lifelines! Living in the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ causes me to think often of the promise of God. What a silly young man I was when, in my arrogance, I would smile about what I referred to as ‘Heaven talk.’ I was young and strong, death was far away (I thought) on the horizon of time, so it seemed to me that talking about Heaven was an escape from the realities of life. I wondered, ‘why do those old Christians get all misty eyed and claim to want to be in a place where they have never been?’ Oh, no more!
A friend died last week. A young man from our community took a hit on the football field on Friday night and died soon thereafter. I will help his family cope with their grief at a service this week. My wife stands at the gate of Eternity as I write. The only way my heart can find comfort is to remember what God, through Christ, guarantees. Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3, NIV)
African Americans, in the time of slavery, led hard lives, full of sorrow. How did they keep their spirits alive? They sang of God’s sweet home. Songs like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “There is a Balm in Gilead” and “Marching Up the Heavenly Road” and “Gonna Shout All Over God’s Heaven” sustained their hearts with hope they could not find here in this world. My Pentecostal ancestors, people who were generally poor and struggling with difficult lives, sang of Heaven, too. “When We all Get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be, when we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory” they sang out on Sunday morning; and they meant it!
Heaven is not just a dream. It is home! Sitting next to Bev yesterday as she exists in the twilight kind of consciousness that is common to the dying, I murmured over and over to her – “Honey, there is no fear because you are going home, home, home; no more moving, no more friends left behind, no more storms, temptations, or sorrows – home!” The Bible says “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. . . . They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16, NLT)
Peter tells us to keep our hearts set on our true Home. “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” (1 Peter 2:10-12, The Message)
I heard preachers warn of being ‘so Heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good!‘ I think they were wrong! He who sets his heart on Heaven will be the most effective servant of God here on earth. He will not waste time trying to hold onto what will inevitably be torn from his grasp. He will not attempt to build a kingdom here, knowing that his reward is secure in an Eternal Kingdom. He will not fear – Hell, Storm, Devil, or Death – or whatever may come into his life. Why? Because he knows that this life is a pilgrimage, only the prelude to the Story written by His Eternal God.
He know he is not HOME yet, but that there is a home ready for him.
The word from the Word today –
“This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way.
All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause!
Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming. ”
(2 Timothy 4:7-8, The Message)
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
You call me out upon the waters,
The great unknown where feet may fail.
And there I find You in the mystery,
In oceans deep, my faith will stand.
And I will call upon Your name,
And keep my eyes above the waves.
When oceans rise,
My soul will rest in Your embrace,
For I am Yours and You are mine.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters,
Your sov’reign hand will be my guide.
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me,
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
Let me walk upon the waters,
Wherever You would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger,
In the presence of my Savior.
I will call upon Your name,
Keep my eyes above the waves.
My soul will rest in Your embrace,
I am Yours and You are mine!
Joel Houston | Matt Crocker | Salomon Ligthelm
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