I assisted in the funeral for a close friend. He was older by almost twenty years, and became my mentor more than thirty years ago. He was a take-charge kind of guy and I always imagined him going out like John Wayne in The Shootist. Consistent with his personality, he left specific instructions for his funeral, including the passage he wanted the pastor to preach and the three points he wanted him to make. To his friends he wrote, “I want there to be more laughter than tears. After all, I will be in Heaven.”
I watched him age like I have watched others, the same process I am beginning to see in myself. As he entered his eighties his strength and vigor began to slip. The last time we went out to eat he needed a walker to make his way to the table. Aging is an inescapable experience for all of us who live long enough. But in the end, in the “twinkling of an eye … we shall all be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
When my mother was young she was a beauty and a fast runner who won several ribbons in track meets. But in her last years she was feeble and almost blind. When she was 89 years old and dying, we talked about what it would be like when she woke up in Heaven, able once again to run through the meadow as she did in her youth. Her body once again characterized by energy, strength, beauty and grace.
I have often thought about Heaven and what it might be like. Someone once said that we might think of everything that is beautiful and good on this earth and multiply it by two. That of course is a small number, but anything more defies imagination. I like to think about the sun rising in the east, its light filtering through the leaves warming my shoulders on a cool morning; the birds calling to one another as the day dawns; the scent of freshly cut grass and new turned earth; the fragrance of lilacs in spring and roses in summer; the laughter of children on the playground; the crack of a baseball bat and the smack of a ball in the glove; the weight of a sleeping baby in my arms. On this earth and in this world, they are enough. But multiplied by two, or a thousand? Incomprehensible!
Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, so that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3). “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” (John 11:25-26).
The Bible says, “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2). “If we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 6:5).