Thoughts of my father crept through my mind today. My ninety-four year old grandmother has congestive heart failure and pneumonia. She has been put in CCU in the same hospital in which my father died in May 2009. I live a few states away from my family and cannot be there to help them through the chaos and grief. I know that they are dealing with memories of my father too. I cannot help but reflect on that time three years ago when we said goodbye to him. I knew where he was going - to see his Saviour. I could not begrudge him that blessing: the end to his earthly suffering and the sheer pleasure that He would share in the arms of Christ. It inspires awe just to write those words. As death looms in the air once more, my father is on my mind, yes, but what is more, Heaven is on my mind - Christ is on my mind. I wrote something after the death of my father that I would like to share. I spent a great deal of time meditating on what the Scriptures had to say about the reality of Heaven in relation to the faulty perspective that I had held up until then. I hope that it blesses you.
This has been one of the worst and one of the best years of my life. God has really refined Caleb and I over the last year. We have been faced with unemployment, homelessness, a miscarriage, and the loss of my Dad. On the other hand, we have two beautiful healthy girls, and even though it meant no income, having Caleb home over and over again proved itself to be vital in the life of our family on many occasions. Having no income and not having a home of our own brought Caleb and I so much closer together and taught us to depend on and cherish one another. He is my best friend. It also brought us to a clearer realization of our family’s place in God’s plan. Everything, no matter how wonderful or how horrible is ultimately to His Glory.
One of the reasons I thank God for Caleb’s long-term unemployment was because it afforded us to be able to spend a great deal of quality time with my Dad before he died. We were able to up and move in March 2009 down to Tennessee from Minnesota. During those 2 months we had with Dad, I was able to see my husband’s relationship repaired with my father, and I was able to experience and record precious moments of my dad with my daughter, Hadassah. I count it a blessing that God allowed me to share in that.
After we had our miscarriage and then Dad left us the week after, Caleb and I spent a great deal of time reflecting on the experience. I had never experienced the death of someone close to me before. I had a lot of thoughts and questions concerning the subject. I have learned a lot, and it has changed not only at how I view the deaths of my child and father but also my understanding of the Person of God and Heaven.
When I was young I would hear different thoughts and views on God and Heaven from those around me, some biblical some not. After Dad’s death I began to think about what I knew about Heaven, and it wasn’t much. My knowledge was a hodgepodge of Sunday School lessons, clichés, random Bible verses, etc. You can fill in the blank too, because I feel like a lot of other Christians are in the same boat as I was. As a child you might have thought of heaven the same way I did:
1.) As a Party because there is supposed to be feasting all the time,
2.) Boring, because there’s supposed to be singing and praising all the time,
3.) Mysterious, because what are we going to do with all that time up there if heaven is never ending,
4.) Scary, because we are told that even as Christians we are supposed to face judgment, or
5.) A Family Reunion (for some this might be classified under “party” and for others under “boring”) because we are supposed to be able to see all of our family and friends again,
6.) A Rewards Ceremony where we get what we deserve for all our toil on earth and receive our mansions and crowns.
Have we ever really thought about Heaven, and how our thoughts about Heaven reflect on the Person of God? For myself, my thoughts concerning Heaven were completely unbiblical and these ignorant beliefs afforded me an impotent God.
Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”
A lot of times we spend our time anxiously praying to keep good old saints, like my Dad, out of Heaven because we loved him and we wanted to keep him on earth with us. How often do we spend our time praying for lost souls who are not Heaven bound? I love my Dad and I did not want to see him go and we did pray for a miracle healing right up to the end. I loved my baby and I wanted to be pregnant, but who am I to question what glorifies God. God was glorified in my Dad’s death. God was glorified in the exact way that my Dad died, through all the suffering. God was glorified by taking our child. God was glorified and that is all that matters. Heaven is better than anything on this earth. Heaven is not better because we get to see our family and friends who have gone before us. Heaven is not better because there are mansions and crowns, and feasts. Heaven is better because of the reasons I gave above as being “mysterious and boring.” The problem was my perspective. What was “I” going to do with all that time up there? How boring would it be if “I” had to sing and praise all day. My perspective was completely unbiblical and it robbed God of all His Glory.
In Paul’s letter above, do you see that “very much better.” Its bad grammar but it was meant to stand out even in the original Greek. Why do I not think of being with Christ in Heaven as “very much better” than here on earth with my family. I could be a good little Southern Baptist and say that I do, but it would be an outright lie. Do I not take my Savior seriously? I can say that I desire God’s glory above all else, but if I say He can’t take me, my husband, my children, my family, my friends . . . who am I?
God told Job, “Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.” Later Job replies to His God, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and Your instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”
God is more magnificent than our finite minds can ever comprehend. There will never come an end to the knowledge that we can gain about our Savior. That’s what we will do with all of our time in Heaven . . . we will get to know our Savior, and the more we know Him the more we will want to praise Him. So the reasons we should desire Heaven so greatly is because of the most “boring” and “mysterious” reasons after all. When Christ is the center of our lives, how could we want to do anything else but get to know Him more. Family, friends, feasts, rewards, who cares? My Savior is standing before me.