After I put the fake tree and decorations away in late December, I really don’t give any thought, or have any wild anticipation of the next Christmas until sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
It is long about that time that Christmas paraphernalia starts appearing in department stores and lights and decorations begin to adorn the neighborhoods. The expectancy of the Christmas season begins to ramp up, to a point we become giddy with the Christmas spirit.
When I was in my teenage years, and 20s, I didn’t think too much about Heaven — even though I had settled the issue in my heart about trusting the One who would take me there one day.
But meanwhile, there was life to be lived — things to do, places to go, and people to meet. But similarly, as our hearts turn toward Christmas in November, we begin to feel a little more longing for our heavenly home as we approach those golden years.
When I was 20, I lived with the attitude that I had at least 60 or 70 more years on earth. Now that I’m 70, I see far more scenery in my rear view mirror than I do peering through the windshield.
Although I find myself focusing more on Heaven today, I admit, much of it is still a mystery to me. Oh sure, we have seen those books written by people who claim to have spent a couple of hours in Heaven as a result of a near-death experience.
The Apostle Paul was caught up into the “third heaven” as he mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12. Perhaps it was during one of the stonings he experienced and was left beside the road outside of town for dead. What he saw in Heaven was so magnanimous, that he couldn’t express it in words. He wasn’t given the privilege of writing a New York Times bestseller of the experience. God silenced him on the subject through the means of a thorn in the flesh — a messenger of Satan to buffet him.
Why? I believe it was so Paul would not be lifted up in pride, which would hinder him from being useful to God.
So what do we know about our Heavenly home? We know that it is spectacular beyond comprehension with streets paved in solid gold — gates made out of solid pearl — every kind of precious stone imaginable, adorning those streets and walls. And our dwelling place? Jesus tells us He is preparing a mansion for each of us. (John 14) We are told that there is no night or day — that there is no need for the sun because God’s glory is more than adequate to light Heaven up. We know there will be no more death, or separation, or sad goodbyes. There will be no sickness, no discomfort of any kind, no prison, no wars, no famine. There will be no anger, jealousy, suspicion or betrayal. There will be no fear, no anxiety, — no unpleasantness as experienced in this physical life. There will only be peace, satisfaction, joy, fulfillment, genuine friendships, perfect vision — perfect everything!
Will we know one another? Yes! King David knew he would one day be reunited with his infant son who died after only a brief physical life. (2 Samuel 12:23) Peter, James and John had an experience on what is known in scripture as the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matthew 17) Jesus was transfigured into His glorified body and appeared on the mount alongside Moses and Elijah. Peter, James and John witnessed the event, and nobody had to tell them who they were. At the end of the experience, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses and one for Elijah. Peter didn’t want to return to the life on earth after seeing this glimpse of glory.
One final thought — for those on earth who have settled the issue concerning a relationship with Christ, and walk with Him, Heaven is truly home. A child of God considers himself or herself a sojourner — a traveler traveling through this strange land on earth, anticipating that wonderful glad reunion day with loved ones, friends, and even Old Testament and New Testament saints — but what makes it all worth the wait is to be in the presence of God - and seated at His right hand, is the Son, Jesus Christ.
Are you going there?
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.