I used to be scared to death of death. The worst-case scenario would play out in my eight-year-old brain: I’d show up at Judgment Day and get a scowl and the boot. I’d then be led off to spend eternity writhing in agony with worms and flames and demons, trying to figure out how I could have been better or done it right.
Mercy met me in the valley of the shadow of death. He opened my eyes to a fuller, deeper, truer, more robust brand of love than I’d ever dared to consider. This grace—could it be? And could it be for me? That shift in my awareness of reality changed everything. My greatest fear has become my truest hope. We’re all just passing through this life. Thanks be to God, there’s more waiting for us!
Heaven has been on my mind a lot recently. The more I think about it, the more I long for it. C.S. Lewis puts it this way in The Last Battle of the Narnia series:
And as [Aslan] spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read; which goes on for ever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.
What a beautiful concept that can only begin to scratch the surface. Here are some specifics of what the body of Christ is trekking toward with every single step toward home.
We will be fully free; completely healed; treated according to God’s perfect design; in the company of the saints; caught up in glorious adventures; 100% victorious; creatively walking in happy purpose; surrounded by God’s presence; constantly celebrating; at rest; more ourselves than ever before; brimming with contentment; living worship; secure in the Lord’s love; in perfect relationship with ourselves, others, God, and nature; and welcomed home.
The gifts, however, are nothing in comparison to the Giver. Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven without Jesus. Singing hymns that focus on our future hope is one of the best ways we can remind ourselves of the truth we’re fixed on.
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
Just a few more weary days and then
I’ll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I’ll fly away
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun
What here can compare to there? What now can compare to then? The very best experiences this world can offer are only a taste of what’s waiting on the other side of glory. Friends, this should impact everything—what we want, how we suffer, where we invest our energy. Martin Luther said, “There are two days in my calendar: this day and That Day.” Living with the end in mind is a stunning picture to a watching world that can only grasp at straws here and now. This hope we have should seep deep deep down to our toes and then spread to others like laughter. Take heart: day is breaking. Morning is coming.
If you were to reorder your life—thoughts, words, habits, relationships—with the end in mind, what might need to change?