“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God
Is with you wherever you go.”
I’m not going to kid anyone. These are terrifying times. Some are saying we must hole up longer and longer. Some are saying we can’t go on like this. The experts are now revising their estimates – way, way down. Who do you believe?
As a Christian, I know that I am at peace with the Creator and that this time on earth is nothing in the big picture. What is the big picture? Well, where do you even start with our bible? I’m drawn to the book of John today.
John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
That’s the big picture. We will be with Jesus in our Father’s house, a place much different than this. We really don’t know much about heaven, but we do know some things. For now, let’s rest with this:
Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
There is so much material in the bible to give us hope. You want to find a good chunk of encouraging scripture, check out John Chapters 14-17. Seriously. Read it slowly. Let it all soothe your spirit, word by word.
You may say, “Well, all that is fine and good, but I’m hurting today.” Yes, I understand. I say the same thing. Then again, I’m reminded of what Paul said. You see, he was one of the few who have been given a glimpse of heaven. He wouldn’t talk about it directly, but he did say enough to encourage us that heaven, indeed, is a place we want to be. It’s true, we don’t know much about heaven. God could tell us so much more. But, for those of you who have been around little kids, some things are simply beyond their capacity to comprehend. It’s better to experience it.
That’s what I think it must be like for us and heaven. We know enough that it’s somewhere we want to go, but it’s really beyond our ability to understand just how wonderful it is.
To help explain what I mean, let me share part of a passage that I’m sure you’ve heard:
Philippians 1:21-26 For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
To get this straight, we need to remember that Paul’s occupation as an apostle caused him beatings and severe hardship all the time. You and I know nothing of this. I’ve never been punched in the mouth because of the gospel let alone even once been beaten with a whip, but Paul was many times. Imagine how scarred his body must have been. I bet he couldn’t stand up straight if he wanted to. Even so, he couldn’t decide whether it was better to stay on earth or go to heaven. If a life-threatening beating was likely in store for you this morning, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to go to heaven immediately?
Why did Paul have trouble deciding? It dawned on me that he must have been absolutely 100% positive that heaven is real, that it is far better than here, that it isn’t going anywhere, and that he, for sure, is going there. Look, I can endure a lot if I can see that there is an end in sight. We all can. Yet think about what Paul was enduring. Furthermore, it seems like he had an ACTUAL choice in things. In the end, he chose to stay and suffer because he was so confident in what was to come after.
That’s the frame of mind I need. That’s the confidence I need to have. How do I get it? By reading God’s word, applying it to my life, and talking to Him regularly in prayer. Oh, and through fellowship with other believers. Oh, and one more thing – by the natural encouragement one gets through sharing the gospel. Remember, that’s the whole reason he was staying on this earth.
Father, teach me to be like that. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers