Heaven on My Mind
By Belinda Elliott
I had already gone to sleep when the phone rang. My dad’s voice was shaky as he let me know that my grandmother had lost her battle with cancer. It was a phone call that I’d been expecting, but one that I was still not prepared for.
During the four-hour drive from my college campus the next morning, I recalled the many happy summers spent at my Granny Wanda’s house. Not your typical grandmother, her energy usually rivaled my own.
The memories played through my mind as if they had taken place only yesterday. I could see my granny splashing and playing in the lake alongside me, hooting hysterically outside the monkey cages at our local zoo, and spinning around and around with me on the Tilt-A-Whirl until it made us both sick. (We had to make the ride’s operator stop it to let us off, but we laughed about it all the way home!)
I knew that she was in Heaven and no longer suffering from the disease that had so quickly ravaged her body, but I wasn’t ready to let her go. I felt that God took her away too soon.
Why is it so difficult for us to say goodbye? I think it is because maybe we don’t view death as God does. We see death as an end, and it saddens us to lose the ones we love. But from our Heavenly Father’s view, death is only the beginning – the beginning of eternal life with Him in paradise where we were created to be. Heaven is a place we should be excited about!
To us, death is tragic and many of us fear it. But perhaps to God, dying is the reward for a life well-lived, rather than something to be dreaded. The earthly death of a Christian merely serves to usher us into what God has created for all believers – an eternal home with Him where we will no longer suffer the injustices, trials, illnesses, and disappointments of this world.
The apostle Paul seemed to understand this. In his letter to the Philippians, he expressed his anxious anticipation of eternal life with Christ. He felt torn between wanting to serve the Lord on earth, and wanting to go to Heaven. He describes life with Christ as the more pleasing option.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." (Philippians 1:21-24)
Like Paul, if we are still here, it means God still has work for us to do. But our time on earth was never meant to be permanent. We are to work for the Lord while we are here, telling others about Him so that they too can have eternal life. But we are also to remember the glorious inheritance that God has waiting for us.
When we live our lives this way, keeping Heaven and God’s eternal purposes for us in mind, we see death from a new perspective.
That doesn’t mean that we won’t be sad when we lose loved ones. But we can praise God that, even in our grief, we do not mourn as those who have no hope. As Christians, we have been promised that the end of our lives on earth is not really the end. The day is coming when death and sadness will be no more.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
Thank You, Lord, for the promise of an eternity with you. On this journey through life, help me keep my eyes toward Heaven.
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