This week our family has talked over and over again about death and heaven. We have come to terms with life is precious here on earth, but life in heaven is an amazing adventure. Because of the friends and family that have been face to face with death this week, my family has had to talk about some tough issues. My seven year old, Kate, started a conversation today that I just have to share along with some scripture to back up her thoughts.
Kate said, “Mommy, I think it would be fun to be able to watch that big stone thing come up from the ground while Uncle Mike’s dad is dying.”
I said, “Huh?”
Her response was, “You know like Grandpa Johnson’s stone that we put flowers by. When Uncle Mike’s dad is ready for heaven, that big stone will grow up from the ground and that is how God will tell us he is dead and ready for heaven.”
My response, “Yep, that would be neat.”
Kate then went on to ask, “Is heaven fun?”
I replied, “Yes it is so fun that you never want to return to earth. You just want to stay in heaven for ever. And because of that, God keeps you in heaven. That is why when someone dies, we cry here on earth because we know we will never see them again here on earth.”
Kate’s response, “Well, I want to go there, and I will sneak back home and pack a bag for you to come.”
I replied, “The cool thing about heaven is – you don’t need a bag – everything that you will need is up in heaven.”
Kate then said, “That is so great! Let’s go now.”
I ended the conversation with, “Mommy is not quite ready for heaven. I still have work to do on earth for God. But when the time comes for me to go, I am going to rejoice that I get to go to that fun place with God.”
Let’s look at scripture:
Genesis 1:7-9 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
Luke 15:7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 24:50-52 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
2 Timothy 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
It is overwhelming how many scriptures contain the word “heaven.” Kate was right to ask about heaven because it is an unknown for all of us. Most of the scriptures that I found in the bible related to heaven with joy or glory. I guess as Kate might say “fun.” Heaven is a wonderful place. It brings us unimaginable peace. It ends the struggles we have endured here on earth. It is our face to face meeting with God.
One of the questions Kate asked during our conversation was “Is God alive in heaven?” That is a valid question. I believe that I will meet with God face to face. I also believe that He will have a little (okay, maybe long) conversation with me about my life on earth. My hope is that once we converse, He will send me up to heaven to find joy. True joy.
I guess the problem comes about when you are not the one going to heaven, but are left back on earth to live out your life. Losing a loved one is hard. It is tough to make room for God, because our concern becomes about the person dying. The “What If” game starts to happen. What if he/she suffers? What if they aren’t ready to leave earth? What if God doesn’t allow them up in heaven? What if they don’t really believe in God? During the difficult struggles on earth, I have found that Romans 8:26-28 help me bear the load.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
So as adults, we struggle with heaven being equivalent to joy. We just don’t know what to expect. We like to plan ahead. We need the tangible. God is certainly not tangible, and in order to have faith, you must be able to rely on the intangible. Because of this, I find during times of struggle it is hard to pray. I cannot concentrate on anything but the situation I am facing. That is when I pull out the bible and read through the passage above. Pray for me Holy Spirit. Pray for me with all those that are in heaven and know the joy that death can be. Best of all; remind me that this struggle has a purpose that will be used for good. A good I may never see, but someone will.