main reason to look forward to heaven is the presence of Christ. When Jesus prayed for "His sheep," He emphasized that the highest blessing the Father could bestow on them is to bring them into His glorious presence forever: “Father,
I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to
see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation
of the world” (John 17:24).
Anyone who truly loves Christ needs no other motivation to long for heaven. Like the Psalmist said, “Whom have I in
heaven but you?” (Psalm 73:25a)
Yet there are other reasons to look forward to heaven.
I listened to the testimony of an FBI agent before a Senate Committee. I bet you know
who I’m talking about. Rather than use his actual name (which temptingly rhymes
with words I shouldn’t use), I’ll call him Peter Smirk.
Mr. Smirk’s bias
for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump was on clear display in text
messages he shared with his mistress, another FBI agent. When faced with the
evidence, he - unbelievably - defended himself by proclaiming that he is an
incredible patriot and would never, ever act out of bias.
Many years ago I saw a documentary about volcanoes. There were plenty of shots of glowing lava moving moltenly and inexorably down the face of the mountain. But the image that has stayed with me was of a very wealthy businessman (I know he was very wealthy because that’s what the narrator said) hurling his super-expensive wrist watch into the lava. The watch thrower, the narrator further explained, did it as an act of worship to honor the god of the volcano.
(By the way, remember the “Deep Thoughts” of Jack Handey from early SNL: If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let 'em go, because man, they're gone. So don’t have second thoughts about your Rolex™.)
The Bible gives us ample reason to rejoice that our
God is happy. For example, when Nehemiah encouraged the people of Israel, he
reminded them that “the joy of the Lord” was their strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
When Jesus told the Parable of the Talents, the faithful
servant heard this judgment from the master: Well done, good and faithful
servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master (Matthew
25:23, my emphasis). The master's joy!
One of the best questions I’ve ever
heard was asked by a father ashamed of his sons.
The father was the Old Testament judge
Eli, and he was ashamed because his two grown sons were corrupt and ungodly men
who misused their privilege as priests for their own gain and carnal pleasure.
So Eli asked them this question:
“If someone sins against a man, God will
mediate for him, but if someone sins
against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” (1 Samuel 2:25a, my emphasis)
is a weaver, and some of her woven wall hangings tell a story. One of my
favorites is called “Where are You?” A lonely girl sits at the darkened mouth
of a cave. The rough rock around her seems harsh and foreboding. Miserable and
hopeless, she cries out: “Where are You?”
when you step back do you see that the rock of the cave is formed by two
gigantic hands cradling her. The hands have nail marks in them.
don’t always see things the way they are. Jesus is nearer to us than we
realize. There are times when He cradles us and carries us without our ever
In the late 1970’s Bill Crawford was
a janitor at the U.S. Air Force Academy.* While the cadets’ days were filled
with academics and athletics, morning parades, room inspections, and leadership
classes, Bill Crawford was cleaning toilets, buffing floors, and emptying trash
shy and unassuming , a gray-haired older man who looked like somebody’s
grandfather. No wonder the cadets didn't take much notice.
But then one
afternoon one of the cadets was reading a book about World War II, and the
Allied ground campaign in Italy. It told the story of a Private William
Crawford, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, who had been
involved in some bloody fighting in Italy. Private Crawford had, on his own,
taken out three machine gun nests to prepare the way for the advance of his