Heaven! Home! As I do often, I stood in a cemetery to minister to a grieving family on Monday. The grave in front of us defied hope, daring us to believe that there is ‘more beyond.’ A little stone on a grave close to the one where we would lay Ellen’s body to rest carries this bleak epitaph after the name – “Game Over.” The funeral director pointed it out with a wry smile.
In a sense, a grave is irrefutable evidence that the game is over for the present here on earth. However, the heart of our Christian faith rests on a resurrected Lord who said he “who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25)
Isaiah caught a glimpse of Heaven and it changed his life. Seeing the wonderful worship of the angels in the Throne Room of God he was overcome by a realization of his sinfulness, his inability to gain a home with God by his own efforts. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5, NIV)
Paul tells of being lifted up to Heaven, seeing visions that were too holy to describe. Those visions sustained his faith through a life of unbelievable difficulties in his ministry and near the end of his earthly journey allowed him to face his death with assurance: “now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.” (2 Timothy 4:8, NLT)
John, in The Revelation, tries to describe other worldly visions that had no earthly equivalent. His attempts have given us the words that forms the idea of Heaven in most of our minds, including streets of gold, gates of pearl, and streams of pure water. “So he took me in spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It was filled with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious gem, crystal clear like jasper.” (Revelation 21:10-11, NLT) “The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.” (Revelation 21:21, NLT) John uses metaphors to describe the indescribable!
When I think of Heaven the best part is this promise: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV) Oh, what joy!
The Lord I love now only in part, I will then love completely.
The hand of Jesus will dry my tears and I’ll never cry again, ever.
There will be no regret, no pain, no disappointment, no longing for what cannot be, no loneliness because where God, in all His Fullness, is, we are made whole. He will draw us into His Beautiful Presence and there no sin can exist. It is this that John celebrates when he writes- “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.” (Revelation 19:1, NIV)
Heaven is not irrelevant to real life as some suggest. It is not a trick to allow us to escape the grim reality of mortality. At one time in my life, I thought that way. Oh yes, I believed in Heaven and Christ’s promise to take me to that place prepared for me, but I seldom thought about it. I dismissed talk of older Christians about Heaven thinking that there is just too much living right here and right now to ‘waste’ time thinking about Eternity. What a foolish boy I was.
With your heart aimed at Heaven and home, invest yourself in God’s work here and now. We are, in word and deed, “laying up treasure” that is beyond the reach of decay, rust, or thieves! Heaven is for now. A Christian who does not have Heaven in view on the horizon of life will wander, become distracted by earth’s pleasures, and even lose heart when the questions outrun his answers. A firm grasp on the promise of Heaven and the disciple’s assurance of eternal life is what keeps him on track, holy and wholly committed to a godly life.
In the word from the Word for today, we find out just how important Jesus felt about having Heaven in our hearts. He 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)
We’re going Home! “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Amen.
Sing the wondrous love of Jesus
Sing His mercy and His grace
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place
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
While we walk the pilgrim pathway
Clouds will overspread the sky
But when travelling days are over
Not a shadow not a sigh
Let us then be true and faithful
Trusting serving every day
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay
Onward to the prize before us
Soon His beauty we’ll behold
Soon the pearly gates will open
We shall tread the streets of gold
Eliza Edmunds Stites Hewitt © Words: Public Domain