Saturday, May 11, 2013

What is Heaven Like?

In a very intense discussion we had in our Master of Ministry class on the course titled “Caring for the sick and dying”, I realized much of how we respond to crisis in our lives is dependent upon our perspective of life. I think it is only human to cling on to what’s here in this brief life on earth. When we minister to those terminally sick or aging, when do we decide to stop praying for healing and face the fact that it is probably better to go to be with the Lord? I am reminded of how Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones prepared himself to die. This man of God was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who went to glory in 1981 at the ripe old age of 81. He had accomplished much in life, a chief influence in the British evangelical movement in the 20th century and a minister of Westminster Chapel in London for almost 30 years.

It is his personal belief that no one should begin the inevitable journey of dying and then to die unprepared. He often preached about it and now to walk the talk. While battling cancer towards the end of his life, he knew it was time not to write more books, but to prepare to die.

His biographer, Iain Murray, visited Dr. Lyold-Jones to discuss an autobiography, a year before he died in March 1981. The old minister decided against it and Murray wrote: "It had to do with his final assessment of the right use of such time as remained to him. It came home to him with much conviction that time to prepare for death was very important; he needed such time and believed that its right use was now his chief work as a Christian. What was uppermost in his thoughts did not lie in the past at all. The big thing before him was that all Christians need a pause from the activities of life in order to prepare for heaven."

In the last days towards the end of February 1981, with great peace and assured hope, he believed that his earthly work was done. To his immediate family he said: 'Don't pray for healing, don't try to hold me back from the glory.' On March 1st, he passed on to the glory he had so often preached about on meeting the Saviour he had so faithfully proclaimed.

This also reminds me of Apostle Paul. He understood the future glory when he said “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
(2 Cor 5:8). Having a healthy appreciation of what our future holds will set us on a hopeful perspective when we are at the brink of death. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)

The lack of eternal hope creates the proliferation of health products and supplements, exercise routines to shape up the body and the covering up of the signs of aging through plastic surgery. I look with amusement how people are in denial often of their true age. Jokingly they say, “After 40, we stop counting.”

Consider the joy of being able to grow old gracefully and to see that there’s beauty too in aging. I am not saying this because I am approaching the point of eternity or graying at a rapid rate (which is totally superfluous with my crown of graying hair). I probably have a good 25 years before that point if nothing serious happens to my body or God should decide for me “Time’s up!”

We need to start thinking about heaven a little more so that we are not so earthly bound that we have no eternal perspective. When I say heaven, I do mean the NEW heaven and earth that we read about in Revelation 21. We will then be blessed with a new perfect body. God now dwells with His people so much so that His glory will be the everlasting light source. We will be living on a new earth and not flapping our wings into ethereal worship! I find myself asking some of the following questions. What is heaven like? Will we ever be bored with eternity? Will we recognize our loved ones and will we have emotions? What kind of bodies will we have and what will earthly nature be like then? Do we still eat and ever grow fat or do we need to still exercise? Are we clothed and will there be music and what kind? How big will the new earth be and do we still keep time? At what age will we remain for eternity and what language do we use? Are there privacy and will we have a super mind? Will we still use science and can I be the scientist that build a starship Enterprise and explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. “Beam me up, Scotty!” It sure is an exciting place! Think about that!

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