Sunday, March 6, 2016

Destination: Heaven

James 4:14 Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

    The past two weeks have been rife with emotion as we've waited to hear of the passing from this life to the next of three people that we care about. All three had a ticket to the same destination and they have all arrived. There were no lay-overs, no delays and no cancellations. And the ticket came with a guarantee they wouldn't get bumped. I don't know exactly when they accepted their free ticket, but I do know it was free.  It's a ticket that we all have access to and it's free for each of us. Jesus paid for it at the Cross. But we must ask for it. That's it. Just ask.

    If Delta was offering free tickets to Hawaii, the lines would be long, and regardless of the time it took to get that ticket people would wait. In the cold, in the heat, without food and needing a bathroom really, really bad. They would wait. After all, it's free and the destination 
is Hawaii, a paradise! Why don't we look at salvation and the free gift that it is the same way? Why is that so hard for so many? It's the way to Paradise, THE Paradise. Our Heavenly home where there will be no more tears, sickness, sadness, disappointment, big egos and thankfully, no politicians or elections.

    We get weary here. Tired. Exhausted. Disillusioned. Sad. Heartbroken. Downtrodden. Cheated. Lied to. Lied about...an endless list. But when you ask Jesus for that free ticket to Paradise, it comes with all kinds of perks that we have access to here on earth. He gives us access to the throne of God where we can cry out to Him about all the bad things we sometimes experience. When we belong to Jesus we understand why the world without Him gives us all the bad emotions listed above. But we can rejoice when we realize we don't belong here any longer.

    One of my favorite songs is "Where I Belong" by Building 429. A portion of the lyrics are: So when the walls come falling down on me and when I'm lost in the current of a raging sea I have this blessed assurance holding me. All I know is I'm not home yet, this is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong.

    All three precious souls had lived long lives, at least what we consider on earth to be long. One was 94, one was 84 and the other 74. Now if you are reading this and you are under the age of 30 you are probably thinking wow, I hope I live that long. As the verse at the beginning says, life is a vapor for a little while and then vanishes away. 

    Within our circle there have been several babies born lately and there are several more baking at the present time. New life. A reason to celebrate and we always do. We ooh and aah over that precious baby with his or her life stretching out before them with endless possibilities. Parents dream of what their little one will accomplish and they always want what's best.

Max Lucado wrote this: When Death Becomes Birth. Heaven enjoys a maternity ward reaction to funerals. Angels watch body burials the same way grandparents monitor delivery room doors. "He'll be coming through any minute!" They can't wait to see the new arrival. While we are driving hearses and wearing black, the angels are hanging pink and blue streamers and rejoicing. Just as we on earth don't grieve when babies enter the world, the hosts of heaven don't weep when we leave it. Dread of death ends when you know that heaven is your true home.

    One was laid to rest last week, another will be tomorrow and another on Tuesday. Saying goodbye is always difficult, but it is less so when we know we will meet again on the other side. Another favorite of mine is a poem by Henry Van Dyke.
                             Gone From My Sight
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side. spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
Gone Where? Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast, hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished size is in me-not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone," there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout. "Here she comes!"
                                 And that is Dying...

All three who passed into eternity in the last few days were greeted by their Savior, who took on sin so that we might have that free ticket. Angels and loved ones gone before were waiting anxiously with Him. What a reunion. When we can keep our sights on Heaven and all that waits for us there, it is a lighter, "see you later."