Monthly Archives: January 2013

Looking Forward to Heaven?

Have you ever been away from your home or birthplace for an extended period of time and received a warm welcome from your family or friends upon your return? Wasn’t it good to find that you were missed? That people looked forward to seeing you?

When I am on the road for a speaking or singing ministry and have to be away for a few days, an overnight, or simply for the day, I look forward to returning home, because I know my husband will say, “Honey, I missed you while you were gone.”

Sometimes I’m the one on the other end of the “welcome home”; waiting for my husband to return home after an absence.

My husband, David, goes away for personal prayer and reflection retreats a few times a year; he does this to get a renewed sense of God’s leading for the church which he pastors, for his other ministries, and for our personal lives. I always miss him when he’s away, even though I maintain a sense of his presence during those absences. When here, his presence fills our home and when he is away everything in our home speaks of him. There is no time when he has to be away that I don’t look forward to his return and our “catch-up” times.

Sometimes I even miss David when he is merely putting in a long day in his office in our walk-in basement, and I’m one floor up, in my writing corner of our reading room. I enjoy having lunch with him on those days, or look forward to our afternoon coffee break. I like meeting with him.

One of my Facebook friends posted something today that spoke to me of home-comings. She was reading to her 8-year-old daughter, Joy, a passage from Isaiah that pictures heaven. Her daughter said she was thinking about some people she wanted to see when she goes to heaven besides family and friends, – which list included some Bible characters, including the 12 disciples. Then she thoughtfully added:

“I especially want to meet God! There is no point in going if you don’t want to meet God!”

Wow, the wisdom of a child! I stopped and thought about that statement. There are many people who hope they will end up in heaven, but it has little or nothing to do with wanting to meet God. They have no longing for Him; they just don’t want the alternative – heaven is the preferred choice for their future residence.

A lot of people facing illness or death think about going to heaven when they die. But I can’t help wondering; what are they expecting? a welcome home? from whom? Are they more excited about seeing a loved one who has passed on – a mother, a father, brother, sister, cousin, or friend, or some famous person – than they are about seeing God?

Fact is, some of us who love the Lord will never “go to heaven”.  I hope that doesn’t scare you.

In the Bible we read that one day Jesus will return to earth to sort things out at the battle of Armageddon. At that time He will set to right all the things we earthlings have messed up by living under the influence of our sin nature, rather than the Spirit-imparted new nature. Many of us look forward to His return. However, if we are still alive when he returns, we won’t go to heaven at all . . .  heaven will come to us.

As the Apostle John reports to us in the book of the Revelation:

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”* for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘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 21:1-4 – NIV)

The rest of chapter 21 describes the heavenly city. Then chapter 22 continues:

”Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 22:1-5)

If you are not enjoying God’s presence now as a part of your daily life, it’s not likely you will enjoy heaven then. Nor will  you look forward to hearing the Lord say to you, “Welcome home, my child.”

Are you looking forward to “meeting God” face to face, or just making it to heaven? As Joy asked her mom, “What’s the point in that?”

©2013, Marcy Alves

*Also see Isaiah 65:17, 2 Peter 3:13

**Also see Rev. 7:17 and Isaiah 25:8

Hands Off: I Can Do It Myself!

As we enter this New Year – 2013 – I’d like to encourage you to ask, and allow, God to direct your life this year. This article is a re-post from two years ago; I believe most of us need a reminder, from time to time, to place our life in the Potter’s hands – and fully trust Him to shape us according to His master design. Enjoy and apply.

Have you ever taught a Sunday School class? There are priceless lessons to be learned there from the children.

One Sunday I taught a group of kids in our junior church hour.  Due to a shortage of teachers, it was necessary to combine those of kindergarten age with the kids up through 4th grade.  We were talking about God keeping His promises to us; when He says something, He does it.

I asked the kids to list some of God’s promises on the dry erase board.  Of course, everybody wanted to write on the board, including one very precocious 5 year-old named Hannah, who was just beginning to print. She went confidently to the board. I asked her to write, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  She said, “I don’t know how to write that.”  So I assigned an older child, Katie, to assist her.

Katie proceeded to take the marker from the younger child, but I stopped her and suggested that she place her hand over Hannah’s hand to help her to form the letters to spell the words.  As Katie attempted to move Hannah’s hand in the shape of each letter, Hannah persisted in trying to move the marker in a different direction.

“Hannah,” said Katie, “make your hand like Jello so I can move it.”  It worked for one letter, then, Hannah tried to take over again, though she had no idea how to spell the words.  Frustrated with the process Katie again gave the directive, “Hannah, make your hand like Jello.”

The two girls worked through the short verse, but at the last word, “you”, Hannah insisted she could do it by herself.  Katie removed her hand and Hannah formed a Y without the tail, then, a very good O, followed by an upside down U.  Katie took the marker from Hannah, added the tail to the Y, and put the U right-side up.  I did not miss the obvious lesson in that “team” endeavor.

Sometimes we think we know what we are doing and charge full-steam ahead on our own strength or know-how.  Then we realize we “don’t know how to write that”.  However, we don’t want to turn the marker over to God, so we let Him “help us”.  But the battle has just begun; we shift back and forth between letting Him guide our hand and taking the control back into our own hand.

After a while, God says to us, “let go of the controls” – in other words, “make your hand like Jello”.  When we do become Jello, things turn out well.  But we get tired of not being in control, so we attempt to take over again.  Finally He says, “Okay, do it your way.” And we proceed to do our immature, barely legible job while He stands patiently on the side-line, knowing He will eventually have to add the tail to our “Y” and put the “U” right-side up.

How about you? Is it hard for you to “make your hand like Jello”?

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