What’s Heaven Like?

08Aug10

What is it like to close your eyes in this life and open them in heaven?  What’s it like to know you have only minutes to live?  What goes through your head when you realize all your dreams are not happening – but momentarily The Dream will come gloriously to life?  What is that first moment in heaven like?  What’s it like to finally be home?  There’s no more wandering, no more wondering in heaven.  There’s no more not-belonging in heaven.  There are no more questions in heaven…

Ah, but am I ready for heaven?

I’ve recently had some devastating news from my target country.  As of this moment, my plans to go are not changed.  But death – and the possibility of an early death for me – is suddenly front and center in my mind.  Words from last November’s conference are ringing in my ears…  If I’m not willing to give up everything, how can I call myself a disciple of Jesus?  But then, I don’t live in a vacuum, and I’m beginning to think it will take far more courage for my parents, family, and friends to let me go than it will for me to actually go.  Can I force courage on people I love?  Is that right?  Even if nothing “bad” happens to me, my physical absence from the states and “safety” will be a cause of concern for at least a few.  In theory, I know God is way big enough to handle not only my fears but also the fears of those I love.  But what does that look like in practice?

As with many Sunday mornings this year, I wept during worship.  The music was all about heaven…

My rest is in heaven, my rest is not here,
Then why should I tremble when trials are near?
Be hushed my dark spirit, the worst that can come
But shortens thy journey, and hastens thee home.

Let trial and danger my progress oppose,
They’ll only make heaven more sweet at the close;
Come joy or come sorrow, whate’er may befall,
A home with my God will make up for it all.

With a scrip for my back, and a staff in my hand,
I march on in haste through an enemy’s land;
The road may be rough, but it cannot be long,
I’ll smooth it with hope and cheer it with song.

My rest is in heaven, my rest is not here,
Then why should I tremble when trials are near?
Be hushed my dark spirit, the worst that can come
But shortens thy journey, and hastens thee home.

(My Rest is in Heaven, H. F. Lyte, 1833)

This world is beautiful and bright,
O scarce one cloud has dimmed my sky,
And yet no gloomy shades of night
Are gathering round me though I die;
Yet there’s a lovelier land of light,
Illum’d by Bethlem’s beaming Star;
E’en now it bursts upon my sight,
To be with Christ is better far.

True, life is sweet and friends are dear,
And youth and health are pleasant things;
Yet, leave I all, without a tear,
No sad regret my bosom wrings.
The ties of earth are broken all,
My chainless soul, above yon star,
Shall wing its way beyond recall,
To be with Christ is better far.

And is this death? My soul is calm,
No sting is here, the strife is done;
Glory to God and to the Lamb!
Sweet triumph!  I have won, I’ve won!
A crown immortal, robes of white,
For me, for me in waiting are;
Arrayed in glory, clothed in light,
To be with Christ is better far.

(To Be With Christ, 19th-Century Anonymous)

Please be praying for me as I wrestle with new, deep, difficult questions.  Please also be praying for those who are more closely affected than I by recent events.

In the end, this is what really matters: Jesus has won.  Jesus has already won!  Hallelujah.

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