This week marked one year since the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK. Over 126,000 people have tragically lost their lives during the pandemic and there are few people that have not been impacted in some kind of way. The virus seems to be no respecter of persons – with young and old, rich and poor, famous and unknown, all succumbing to its devastating advances. It has been a stark reminder of our own mortality, the brevity of life and that we are all facing eternity.
My heart goes out to all those grieving at this time and all those continuing to fight the virus.
Thank God for all those who have worked selflessly during this time to serve others and make a real difference to peoples lives.
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” (Psalms 39:4-5)
The Bible reminds us that our lives are actually brief, incredibly fragile and that there are no future guarantees;
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14)
The pandemic has brought it all back home that whilst we can make our plans for the future, there are actually no guarantees that we will live to see it.
So what’s next?
The major religions are in one accord that human beings are immortal and that their spirits will live on in some form of afterlife and that in fact, the spirit or soul, once it has left the body, will move onto another existence. They pretty much all hold to the belief that how we have conducted our lives will influence the ultimate destiny of our souls after our physical death has taken place.
However the Christian believes, that on that day when we all breath our last breath, we will be united with all those who loved God in an amazing reunion in heaven. The bible describes heaven as an Eden like paradise where we will live forever.
Facing eternity with no hope
Over the years I have both officiated at and attended many funerals. The saddest ones that I have attended have been the ones that offer absolutely no hope of anything following death.
The most encouraging ones (if that can be said of such an occasion) are those that celebrate the life of the person knowing with full assurance that not only is their earthly battle over, not only are they at peace, but they are now experiencing something far greater.
My aunt died in December last year. She had lived a long and wonderful life and had served God’s purposes in so many ways during that time. It was a life well-lived. On our last visit to her in Harrogate, I was amazed by her incredible faith and the indescribable peace that she had. Her body was wracked with cancer and she had been bedridden for several days and yet she was joyful, at peace and ready for heaven. Her final words to us, delivered with a gentle smile, were these; ‘see you in paradise.’
Christine had been a Christian most of her adult life and I guess had experienced all the ups and downs of a normal life, the mountains and the valleys, the good times and bad. The victories and defeats. The loss of loved ones. The battles she fought with cancer. And yet – she knew Jesus and had this incredible peace. She was ready to die. She was looking forward to eternity. To paradise. She was looking forward to leaving behind her old cancer ridden body and receiving her new body for eternity.
As Billy Graham once said; “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
Heaven awaits us…
The Bible describes heaven in this way:
“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)
The Bible tells us that God has set eternity in the human heart (Ecc. 3:11) which means that we each have a part of us that longs for paradise.
What does heaven look like?
Alice Gray describes it well;
‘Laurel knew she was dying. Over the weeks we often talked about heaven. The hardest part was trying to image something we had never seen. Then I remembered this story about a young girl who had been blind since birth. When she was twelve the doctors were able to perform a new type of surgery that would give her sight. But the outcome wouldn’t be known for several days. After the bandages were removed from her eyes they had to be protected from the light. So she sat in darkness, waiting. The mother spent long hours answering her daughter’s questions about what things looked like and what she should expect.
Finally the moment came, when the child’s eyes could endure enough light for her to look out the window. She stood there for a long time without saying a word. Outside, the spring day was ideal with fluffy white clouds decorating a blue sky. Blossoms sprinkled to the ground like pink snow as soft breezes bared the cherry trees. Yellow crocuses proudly lined the brick pathway that wound across the grass. When the girl turned back to her mother, tears were streaming down her cheeks. ‘Oh, mother. Why didn’t you tell me it would be so beautiful?”
I shared this story with my friend, tears filling my own eyes. ‘Laurel, right now we’re sitting in darkness, but before long you will be asking God the same question.’
I believe that heaven is real and that it will be the most incredible place. The God who created this beautiful world is not going to disappoint us in the next….it will be amazing and I suspect many of us will wonder when we arrive there why on enough we tried to cling onto life here.
CS Lewis put it like this;
“All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.…”
(Last Battle, Chronicle of Narnia series)
Heaven sounds absolutely incredible.
The question, I guess is this – will you be ready when the time comes?
As David Brady said; “We are all going to reach the departure lounge – one day. Will you be ready?”
I sense that for many of us, in the western world, death is not something we want to talk about or discuss. We either don’t even want to think about it or we are simply ‘hoping for the best.’ We convince ourselves that we’ve lived fairly good lives and that this will be enough to gain our entrance.
That is not however what the Bible suggests.
Can I gently encourage you, through this simple and heartfelt blog post to give some consideration to eternity.
One day we will all die. It might be without warning and then it will be too late.
Time to check things out?
Perhaps it’s time to;
- Face the God question.
- Get right with God and find peace with Him and others.
- Discover the amazing relationship with the creator of the universe that awaits you.
- Experience the incredible peace, love and forgiveness of God.
As John Piper succinctly puts it;
“Life Is Short. Eternity Is Long. Live Like It. You will exist forever. You and God are both in the universe to stay—either as friends on His terms, or enemies on yours—which it will be is proven in this life. And this life is a vapor. Two seconds, and we will be gone.”
I guess I had better let Jesus himself have the finally word;
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
I guess you have three clear options right now;
- You can choose to put this to one side for another day (please don’t).
- Place your life into God’s hands right now with the prayer below.
- Explore things a little more.
Father God. Thank you that you know me and you love me. In fact you know everything about me and yet still accept me just as I am. Please forgive me for all the things that I’ve done wrong during my life. Give me a new start right now and come and transform me and my life. Begin to show me the plans and purposes that You have placed me on planet earth for. I gladly surrender my life to you today. In Jesus name. AMEN
If you’ve prayed this prayer then it’s the best decision that I believe you will ever make.
Please let me or someone who you know is a Christian know and then find a lively Bible believing church and get connected with them.
Explore the Christian faith
Alpha is an 11 week course that creates a space, online or in person, where people can have a conversation about faith, life and God. It’s a great way to explore faith and ask all the questions you may have without any pressure. Why not give it a try?
Thanks for reading.