Thoughts of Heaven (4)

16 09 2008

A while back I wrote three blogs about some thoughts I had been having about heaven, and the possibility of seeing my father again. I found myself pondering the other day about how God prepares us for heaven – at least I think that’s what He does.

When we are young we rarely give a thought to death; we feel we are immortal or, if not immortal, at least those with a long while to go. Hitting middle age many of us look back over the years and start to wonder what we have achieved, what it is all about. Instinctively we wonder about the future – are our years limited? Yes they are. But how many years have we got left? We don’t know but our time IS limited. We wonder what we can do with the remaining years. Facing old age can be a fearful thing. There is the possibility today of living to what we once called ‘a ripe old age’, but for so many the length of years is not accompanied by a strong mind and a strong body.

I wrestled with this several years ago. I didn’t want to become geriatric in old age and said, “Lord, please let me burn out before I get to that stage.” But then I pondered it over the following months and eventually came to a place where I said, “Lord, please keep me in good health and clear mind so you can use me, until you let me burn out before getting geriatric.” I began focusing on, not burning out early, but of being used up to the point of burning out early. But then i thought some more and thought this was a place of limited faith and so eventually prayed (when i was 60), Lord, please give me another twenty-five years and may I be able to serve you, bless you and glorify you, every one of those years. How we approach our eventual death, I have concluded, is important.

I have written these sorts of words a number of times before, but they bear repeating. I have been challenged by the psalmist’s words: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (Psa 93:12-15) Did you see the reference to old age?

I’ve asked for it, because it seemed right and good. Whether I get it, only time will tell. Reading Job, I agree with his assessment of life and death (and I know I’ve said this before!) : “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21) The Lord decrees when we leave this planet and I will go not a minute before He decrees. He may decree this year, next year, twenty years time, or whenever. He is the Lord, and His timing will be right.

Why do I say all these things? Because I am certain that the latter years (maybe all the years) of our lives are preparation for heaven. Twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, even a hundred years, is merely a drop in the bucket in comparison with eternity. I’ve suggested before that the Biblical hint is that heaven is a place of activity and blessing. I’ve also suggested we may be granted a glimpse back. There does seem a Biblical link between what we do on this earth and the eternity to follow. I don’t want to suffer too much culture shock when I get there. I hope that however many years I have left, they will be years when I sense more and more something of heaven on earth.

Can we ever prepare for heaven? In as much as we seek for God and know Him today through His Son Jesus Christ, yes we can. In as much as we learn to be led by His Spirit, catch His heart, and catch what He feels and wants for us and for those around us, yes we can. Why do we slow up when we get old?   I’ve concluded it is so that we can gradually detach ourselves from the attachment to this earth and start catching something of what is to come. No, not infirmity in heaven, but infirmity helps me become less earth-orientated and gives me the opportunity to become more heaven orientated. Heaven IS a reality. I want to be ready for it.

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