Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Deceased and Heaven

On March 17 of last year, my father died. Now, my dad was a funny guy and was very friendly. But he was an alcoholic with many terrible things that happened in his life (his mother died when he was three years old; MY mother - his wife - died and left him with three children under the age of 13.) There are more that I could list for you. And he would list them - often - because he was so angry at God for causing these bad things to happen to him. When I shared with him the Bible's teaching - that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him - he didn't want to hear it. Life was unfair and that's just the way it was.

My father heard what was in the Bible; he liked to "argue" religion at times. If he was sober, they were interesting conversations. But Dad wanted no part of a personal relationship with God, with Jesus Christ. He pushed God away.

He pushed God away, as far as I know, until it was too late. My Dad died in a nursing home of a heart attack. And my heart was grieved - is grieved. Now, I don't know what happened on his death bed and I am not God - but as far as I knew my father rejected God up until the moment he died.

Christianity - the Bible - teaches that's the end. There are no more chances. Jesus in Luke 16 tells what happened to two people who died, one who went to heaven and one who went to hell (a waiting place before the final judgement.) You can read the account here. There was no waiting, no prayers that could help you move from one place to another; your choices in life become your destiny in death. And we all have that choice. That free-will thing God created us with.

And so, I grieved my father's death. I mourned that, as far as I know, I will never see him again. I still sorrow over his death - but I could not make him choose when he was alive and nothing I can do now can help him.

Contrast that to a funeral I attended a couple of years ago for a friend of mine. Mike was a fantastic father, excellent musician and had a deep, abiding love for God and his work. His relationship with Christ was strong, and even as he battled throat cancer, he praised God for giving him more days with his precious children, four boys. At his funeral, there were tears for his family and tears that we would not have him here with us - but it was a joyous celebration because he died a Christian. We couldn't pray him into a place - he made his choices here on this earth and there was nothing we could do to change that.

I believe in Heaven - I believe in the Bible and the Bible definitely states there is a heaven - and a hell. The book of Revelation describes heaven for us. It also describes things that have happened, are happening now, or will happen in the future. Some people shy away from Revelation because it is heavy in symbolism. But you can see from the earlier passage I cited that the Bible teaches there is a heaven.

I think many people don't know what they believe - and I am learning more as I study the Bible and understand more.

I will leave you with this passage describing heaven after the final judgment. I have highlighted my favorite passage. It always brings a smile to my face.

Revelation 21:3 - 8

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He 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."

5He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

6He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

I hope that I have chosen my words carefully - I wanted to share my passion about my relationship with my Creator. Questions and discussions are good for building bridges and developing dialogue. Violence and anger are too often the response when religion is involved. I've shared my heart - anyone else?

1 comment:

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

You have shared from your heart, that's good. Sometimes it hard to enter into discussion rationally and peacefully when emotions are involved and people think they're not being heard; or that their viewpoint is discarded or not worthy... that seems to be when discussion breaks down and violence enters. This, sadly, can happen over any discussion but I concur... this is more often the case over religious matters.