A few nights ago, a pastor we knew crawled into bed for a good night’s sleep and woke up in heaven.
A strange feeling of shock mixed with an honest curiosity crept over me when I heard the news.
The pastor, Elston, had a heart that loved the Lord and he lived his life accordingly. I knew where Elston “ended up” and couldn’t help but wonder what he was experiencing.
Not long after hearing Elston’s news, I received an email from a friend who also works in ministry. She told me that one of her board members had just passed away. I remember meeting the woman just this summer. Her eyes glowed with the love of the Lord, and she was firmly committed to the ministry she served.
It wasn’t hard to figure out where this woman was spending eternity either.
Death is a strange thing isn’t it? Hearing about it always seems to make me stop in my tracks and think about things a little more deeply. Our day-to-day can get a bit repetitious at times. It seems like this life will go on forever, until someone we know dies. It’s a pretty big reality check isn’t it?
Sometimes, I also fall into the trap of thinking that heaven couldn’t top what I have on this earth. The whole “pearly gates” thing is a concept that’s a little bit hard to grasp isn’t it? And after all, this life has chocolate, swimming pools and Christmas. Leaving this earth means I’m going to miss out on a whole lot of fun right?
When I ran into my ministry friend the other day, she told me through fresh tears that she was having a hard time “deleting” her former board member’s name from the many lists and documents she had in her office. I understood her pain, but an interesting thought struck me that helped put the matter into perspective.
“Just think,” I said, “her name is being 'added' to the lists up in heaven.”
I was out in my front flower garden this past summer when the petal of a bright pink rhododendron caught my eye. Its perfection captivated me for a time and made wonder. The curve of the petal, the deep magenta dots sprinkled evenly down each side, the bold stripe down its center. All of it screamed of the creator’s hand. And the whisper of God showed me that there’s more…way more.
Christian author Max Lucado wrote this about comparing this life to eternity: “We have our moments. The newborn on our breast, the bride on our arm, the sunshine on our back. But even those moments are simply slivers of light breaking through heaven’s window. God flirts with us. He tantalizes us. He romances us. Those moments are appetizers for the dish that is to come. …Heaven is beyond our imagination. …At our most creative moment, at our deepest thought, at our highest level, we still cannot fathom eternity.”
A few years ago, my husband’s uncle passed away after a fight with cancer. We were all sad to see this kind, boisterous and huggable uncle go, but were overjoyed to know that he had received Jesus as his Lord and Savior before he passed.
Before we left his grieving family to travel back home, I rummaged through our case of CDs looking for the song: “I Can Only Imagine” by the Christian rock band MercyMe. With joy, I handed it over to our uncle’s son. “Listen to this,” I said, knowing the song would minister and bring joy to his heart.
I’ve included some of the lyrics for you below.
Are you wondering about heaven today? If you’ve received Jesus as your Lord and Savior – you know where you’ll spend eternity. And like me, some day you’ll “fly away,” as the old hymn goes. But don’t worry, I’m thinking it’s gonna be way better than chocolate.
I Can Only Imagine (Verses One and Two) I can only imagine what it will be like When I walk by your side I can only imagine what my eyes will see When your face is before me I can only imagine I can only imagine
Surrounded by your glory What will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus, Or in awe of you be still? Will I stand in your presence, Or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing Hallelujah, Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine I can only imagine
1 Corinthians 2:9 New International Version
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him--