The Gate of Heaven
Colossians 3:1 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Recently, the book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, was recommended to me by my cousin. Curious, I began reading the book and found that it piqued my interest further in my destination – Heaven.
Victor Knowles wrote: ‘ Heaven is the dwelling place of God and Christ. The word “heaven” means, “to heave upward.”’ The word ‘heave’ denotes an outside force that propels us to Heaven. That outward force is Christ Jesus, for it is through his death, burial and resurrection that we have the promise of eternal life with Him.
What does this have to do with family history, you ask?
How a person dies is determined by how he lives. I’ve often asked myself why my ancestors continued to travel through all kinds of hardships, living in new areas and learning new cultures. The fathers provided for their families in new lands facing many challenges. Where did they find strength when famine or illness threatened? Where did they find strength when governments changed and their status changed?
It was their indomitable faith in Christ Jesus and his promises. It was their unquenchable search for freedom of worship that propelled them through heart-breaking struggles.
As a child, I didn’t understand that we were poor. Even when Dad did not have 2 cents so I could buy a necklace in 1935. We enjoyed the security of family and our parents relied on God.
When my Grosmom Emilie died, I began thinking about death and life. I was 14 years old. When I sang the song in 1952, Beside the Green Pastures’ for my Suderman grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, I was haunted with Grandpa’s words, “That is where I would like to be.” And he was, in one week.
In the 70’s I watched Dad’s health worsened. I felt the temporariness, the vapor, of his life. At his deathbed I watched him take a last breath with a smile on his face. Later his 12 year old grandson, Matt, told me, “I know where Grandpa is, he is in God’s pocket!”
During Mother’s illness, she awoke one morning and told me of traveling to the top of a mountain. She didn’t know where she was. She looked into the valley, and there lay an iridescent, shimmering river. When she tried to descend into the valley, she heard a voice say….”not yet. Go back down the mountain the way you came.”
Nineteen years after Dad’s death, I watched Mom take her last breath, her face one moment was wracked with pain and the next moment her face was brilliant with peace and joy.
Life after death in Jesus. In Revelation 21: 3-4 – And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live 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.“
When Don Piper described the beauty and the sounds of heaven in earthly words that did not begin to picture the utter beauty. I realized that these were sensory words. I thought about God creating each of us – Psalm 139:14-15 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”
God created us with sensory devices that can perceive beauty. Why?
Just as God created the heaven and the earth in the beginning, with all its beauteous mountains, seas, valleys, He created us with eyes and ears to see His creation and enjoy it with Him. And what we see here on earth is prelude to the true essence of Heaven.
My favorite verses come from John 14:1-4 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus will return to earth in all His glory. That great crowd of witnesses that have cheered me on will greet me…..and you. We will see Heaven with enhanced senses, and intenseness of beauty that we enjoy only in part here on earth, through a glass darkly.
Once, on a cool fall day, I drove down the street, and slammed on my brakes, saying, “God, how do you do that?” I saw the riotous colors of fall trees. It took my breath away. (I’m glad there was no traffic behind me.)
Another time I stood in the ocean at Newport Beach and literally felt His power in the waves and worshipped Him, for his majesty and infinite love.
Flying above the clouds one day, I looked down on the tiny cars that threaded their way across the land below me, and wondered how God sees us. We criss-cross this land in our pursuits for our own purposes. Are we mindful of His purpose for us?
Each time we see His beauty in creation here on earth, it is a reminder of Heaven, a call to remember to worship our Lord.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2
Set your spiritual GPS on the destination – Heaven – no detours or side trips, and I will meet you there!