I’ve been reading Heaven, by Randy Alcorn lately. It’s a book Mom & Dad were going through with their small group before Dad got really sick. The first half of it is full of his underlinings and highlights. I’ve made it to the second half, which is in a Q & A format, and which Dad didn’t read, because he felt he’d gotten all from the book he wanted. It’s really ministering to me.
I’m not very big on “Christian” non-fiction (and even fiction, really). It’s so hard to find 1) good authors who actually know how to write, 2) doctrinally sound teaching, and 3) humility in the author’s approach to the subject matter. I’ve stuck mostly to the Bible when it comes to Christian literature, and I’m glad that I have. The foundation it has given me is solid.
This book is an exception I made, because I trust Dad’s judgment, and because I wanted to feel close to him again for awhile. I’m glad I made the exception. It’s Biblically sound, and the author goes out of his way to make sure you understand that he believes that some of what he is writing is likely in error, but that he did the best he could to make sure that what he was writing was based on Scripture, and not on his own ideas. It’s refreshing to see that in a Christian book. So many of them are dogmatic in their man-made opinion, forgetting that they don’t have the corner on the Scripture interpretation and application market.
It’s not one of those “Heaven is For Real” books, where someone makes claims that they’ve visited Heaven, and therefore know everything about it. It’s the culmination of a pastor’s 15+ years of studying what Scripture has to say on the subject of Heaven. He looked into it, because he found that he (and most Christians, if we’re really honest) wasn’t really looking forward to Heaven the way he felt he should.
I’ve learned a lot. Quote after quote in it (mostly from great teachers of the faith from history) stands out and touches me. Not the least of which is this one:
“No inhabitants of that blessed world will ever be grieved with the thought that they are slighted by those that they love, or that their love is not fully and fondly returned. … there shall be no such thing as flattery or insincerity in Heaven, but there perfect sincerity shall reign through all in all. Everyone will be just what he seems to be, and will really have all the love that he seems to have. It will not be as in this world, where comparatively few things are what they seem to be, and where professions are often made lightly and without meaning. But there, every expression of love shall come from the bottom of the heart, and all that is professed shall be really and truly felt.” ~Jonathan Edwards
Just take that in for a moment.
I can’t even add anything to that. This quote made me cry.
People do let us down here. Regularly. And we let them down all the time. Even the ones closest to us. It’s guaranteed to happen. There is no way to imagine a relationship here in which there are no misunderstandings, miscommunications, or pretense. Those relationships don’t exist here.
But someday – they will exist.
For those of us who have surrendered our lives to Jesus, and have been accepted into His Kingdom, we have the hope of looking forward to just that. Perfect relationships in which agape love really does reign, and there will never be conflict again. No more misunderstandings, arguments, rejection, hypocrisy, masks, or betrayal. No more being used, taken for granted, or taken advantage of. We won’t do that to others, either.
No petty jealousies, no gossip, no malice or fair-weather friends.
It will be relationship, minus the Curse. Can you imagine?! I can!
Heaven is going to be “for real” in ways we can only imagine here, and boy! do I find myself imagining lately what God has in store!!! My heart is encouraged every time I read the book. It’s not Scripture, and doesn’t have the power inherent in the Word of God, but it definitely is filled with words of encouragement based on Scripture. And these days, those are the best kind.
I’m truly excited about what Heaven will be, in ways I never have been before. Being reminded of what awaits me in eternity by the grace of God, and through the blood of Christ, is the best encouragement I can receive right now. There is nothing more comforting than the balm of God’s loving Word. Nothing.
I have become more “heavenly-minded” since I started reading this book. I’m living my life a little more everyday in light of eternity. Everything I do here, everyday, means something there. What is unseen is eternal. That’s a literal, physical, tangible truth! That truth has finally sunk in. I don’t want to come through the refiner’s fire at the end of it, and find that most of my life was dross. I want to be tested and found to be pure gold. Salvation as fire insurance is not enough for me.
It never has been, but now I have a clearer idea of what living in light of Heaven actually means. It’s not about being worthy of Heaven, so much as it is training for my role there. God has a place and a job for me there. I need to be ready for it! This time I have on Earth is the time I get to ready myself for my responsibilities and life in eternity with God. This is my training period, my warm-up, my practice.
So, from now on, I will keep surrendering daily, so that I can “do everything to the glory of God,” with Heaven in mind. I will let Him coach me, guide me, pick me up, instruct me, and lead me in everything. Down to the smallest dish that needs washing, and up to the greatest issues that God brings my way. Faithful in everything, no matter how small.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” ~Luke 12:48b (NIV)
God has, indeed, given me much. I want to give him everything in return, and allow him to refine me here. I want to be ready.
How about you? Are you looking forward to Heaven? Do you belong to God’s Kingdom? Do you really want to go there? If not – why not? What’s holding you back?
Grace & Peace,