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Heaven 101
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In my work as a hospice chaplain, I have often stood by the bedside of those who have recently died. Surrounded by family and loved ones, I have listened with interest and sometimes astonishment as family members envision their dearly departed in the following ways:

“Well, let’s not cry. You know Uncle Joe is fishin' right now. And he’s just about to reel in a big one!”

“Well, Dad’s finally up there with Mom and they’re driving to the casino to play the slots right now!”

“I can just see Mary, lighting up a cigarette and now she can smoke all she wants.” (Mary, by the way, has just died a horrible death from lung cancer).

“Grandpa’s up there eatin' a Big Mac, relaxin' on the black, leather furniture he always wanted.” 

Although none of us knows exactly what heaven will be like, the Bible reveals enough about our future home to dispel every one of these ideas as false. Revelation 21: 3-4 paints a tender picture of our loving God, personally wiping away every tear from our eyes. In that passage God assures us that in heaven there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain, because the old order of things has passed away.

Think about it! There will be no more death—not just for people but for all of God’s creation. And, that includes the fish and the cattle. So, fishing, Big Mac’s and leather furniture will be out for obvious reasons.

Will God allow the pure, sweet, fresh air of heaven to be polluted by second hand smoke or exhaust fumes?  No way!

No More Mourning, Crying, or Pain

Will we be throwing money into slot machines and then angrily careening down the road after we loose it all?  Hardly.

“…there will be no more mourning, crying, or pain" (Revelation 21:4).

The root of all these strange misconceptions rests with one false assumption.  Heaven is going to be like earth – a mere extension of the life we live here.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!

In fact, if heaven is just like earth, why on earth would we want to go there?

Throughout the scriptures we are reminded that God is holy and his dwelling place in heaven is also holy (Psalms 11:4; Leviticus 19:2; Isaiah 6:3). We too, are urged to be holy (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:15). But why? Because God wants us to get ready to live with Him in heaven, which is a holy place.

But how can we get holy? In our own strength, we can not. Oh, we can clean up our act a bit—make ourselves look better on the outside. But we can’t change our hearts. Only God can do that. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we give permission for the Master heart surgeon to transform us from the inside out.

Then, day by day, staying in relationship with the Lord, we are changed; we are made holy, like our God. But the first step is surrender—letting God take the wheel—giving up the control of our lives to the Lord. This is where the rubber meets the road. It all starts here.

More than anything, God wants you to be in heaven with Him. How about it? Will you surrender today?

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Kathy A. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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