In the last two weeks, the mothers of three of our church members have died. And one of our longtime members who has been home-bound for more than a decade died in a care facility at the age of 93.
In the last two weeks, I’ve been to two funerals (one of which I led), and met with grieving families and prayed many prayers with those families and even more for those families.
In the last two weeks, I’ve been thinking about the eternal destiny of these four believing ladies particularly, and about Heaven in more general terms.
In the last two weeks, I have been reminded numerous times about the joys of Glory, and that in one of the central passages about Heaven in the New Testament, Paul doesn’t call it Heaven, but he calls it Home. This fits with his teaching elsewhere that as believers, we are sojourners on earth and that our citizenship is not on earth but in Heaven.
When we die, we go Home. When I go to my earthly home this afternoon, when I walk through the door I will likely be greeted by the sounds of conversation, perhaps some music being played quietly in the background, and the smells of dinner cooking. That thought brings a smile to my lips even as I anticipate that reunion.
What will our eternal Home be like when we walk through its gates?
It’s the place that Christ is building uniquely for each person who believes in Him (Jn. 14:1-6). It’s a real location in a real place with a real building that is permanent for its residents.
It’s the place of unimaginable beauty. Revelation speaks of city gates made of single pearls and streets of gold; that is not only to say that Heaven is beautiful but that Heaven is so beautiful that the things that normally attract us as being most valuable will be the most common things in Heaven. What then will the beauty of our Savior who outshines all things be like?
It’s the place where our bodies will be redeemed (Rom. 8:23). All the things that had plague our bodies in this life on earth and particularly in our final years are done and gone. There are no no more physical limitations.
It’s the place where sin will be removed (1 Jn. 3:2). All the things that plague our spirits while on earth — all the temptations and all the sin (and are all sinners who have these struggles) are gone, never to plague us again.
It’s the place that we will experience fellowship with one another as perfected, sanctified believers (Rom. 8:30; Rev. 22:1-5). On earth our relationships will inevitably be disappointing to us; in Heaven, there will be no breaking of relationships, no sin to make relationships challenging, and only joy in our relationships.
It’s the place where our Savior and our Father are; it’s the place where we will never be separated from the One God who loves us supremely and perfectly (Jn. 14:3). It’s the place where we experience our full adoption as God’s sons (Rom. 8:23a). It’s the place that Christ, the bridegroom, has created for the church, His bride, so that we might be with Him
It’s the place where everything that fails us on earth is reversed. Instead of mortality, we have immortality. Instead of temporary, we have eternal. Instead of sin, we have sanctification and glorification. Instead of weakness and suffering, we have undiminished strength and healing. Instead of frail friendships, we have perfect fellowship. Instead of broken homes, we have an eternal Father and an infinitely good Savior as our Groom. All that is inadequate on earth is redemptively reversed in our new home, Heaven. And the reversal is permanent.
And that is what those who are in Christ and have preceded us in death know today. And it is what they will know and experience for the next 10,000 years. And the 100,000 years after that. And then, their eternal time there will have just begun.
So our departure from earth, whenever it comes for those who are believers in Christ, is always good news — the best news. We walk out the door of this earthly existence, don’t look back, and walk into the doorway of Heaven, and are finally and fully Home. Forever.