1 Corinthians 2:9 – Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (KJV)
Recently, I celebrated a "milestone birthday". At the urging of a couple of friends, I put together a small celebration at a downtown bistro. The food was wonderful, the company delightful, and the gifts very generous. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. One guest asked, "Could we do this again in a couple of weeks?" and we joked about a reunion party next year!
However, after the celebration came reflection. Milestone birthdays force us to think about the time remaining, and the life beyond time. Even as a Christian, in the earlier years of my life, I scarcely gave heaven a nodding glance. I was preoccupied with the present and the immediate future.
Yet, if we consider the eternity we will spend in heaven, our current cares and concerns seem less important. Reading about heaven gives us a different perspective. With this in mind, I undertook a mini-study on heaven. Here is a selection from what I found (all references NIV):
The Bible tells us to store up treasure in heaven that cannot be destroyed or stolen, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21) This treasure is "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade." (1 Peter 1:4)
John 3:27 reminds us that "a man can receive only what is given him from heaven" and Philippians 3:20 tells us that "our citizenship is in heaven." What has sustained us is a gift from heaven; heaven is our true source and our true home.
If our source is heaven, there is no room for pride. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3,4)
If heaven is our true home, then we can face the future unafraid. Paul's comforting words in 2 Corinthians declare, "If the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:1,5,6)
Although scripture passages allow us to draw inferences about heaven, it will remain a mystery to us in this life. Paul reveals that when he was caught up into paradise, "he heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." (2 Corinthians 12:4)
However, throughout the scriptures God promises to look after us from the beginning to the end of our life. The opening lines of Robert Browning's Rabbi Ben Ezra confidently state:
- Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand.
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your sustaining care in our lives. We rely on your great faithfulness and love each day. We thank you that you will bring us safely into the last of life, and you will be waiting for us with open arms when we see you face to face. The best, indeed, is yet to be. Amen.