Last evening I attended a service of remembrance and celebration for the life of a friend who has recently passed away. It was an atmosphere of shared grief mingled with a tender joy in knowing that our friend is indeed now in heaven. The joy he is experiencing is immeasurable.
After the service a friend shared a story that touched me very much and filled me with a sense of quiet thrill at what lies ahead, when the time of my own journey on earth, comes to an end. The story goes that someone she knows was visiting a friend. It was the first time at this friend’s house. At one point during the visit, the owner of the home excused himself and left the room for a moment. During that time there sounded from another door in the room a peculiar noise. The man strained to listen and identify what he was hearing. It seemed to him to be a sort of muffled thud. For a moment he was slightly fearful because the noise was so strange and grew louder. Finally, he stood, walked across the room, and carefully opened the door. In bounded a most exuberant large dog, tail wagging, body twisting in happiness, as if the man whom he had never seen before, was a long lost friend.
The lady telling this story at our gathering last evening went on to say that this story reminded her of how it will be when we get to heaven. She said at times when we think of death we might sense a shiver of fear because it’s an unknown. What happens to us the moment we take our last breath on earth? Will it hurt? Will it be dark? Will one be alone? She said that all those fears of the unknown will be instantly replaced with the greatest of joy because when the door of death opens, in bounds the most exuberant of joy when our eyes catch our first sight of Jesus; His loving eyes peering into ours with indescribable love and welcome.
“We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. We eagerly wait for Him…” Philippians 3:20
When we know Him, truly know Him. fear of death may come to our minds from time to time because we are mere humans, but when that moment comes that we appear at death’s door, what glorious wonder, peace, and joy will flood into our being, and this joy will not be temporary. It will last for eternity.
I have had the pleasure and adventure of spending a lifetime in different cultures. Things Asian are different than things European. Things European are different than things American. Things American are different than things African. No two countries are alike, even if they speak the same basic language. Foods are prepared uniquely to every country. Modes of transportation can vary greatly. The way one dresses is most always different from one country to another. Even the way one perceives something and makes a decision is vastly different from country to country. It’s absolutely fascinating; sometimes it has made me laugh while at others times it has made me cry, but it’s still fascinating.
I have always found it the wisest decision to consciously adapt to the culture one lives in. Learn to prepare and eat the foods. Learn what is offensive and avoid doing or saying it. Dress appropriately as the nationals dress. Make attempts to learn something of the language even if your attempts murder it. People of any country will appreciate your endeavor to fit in with how they live. These undertakings make life easier for the visitor to any country. Feelings of being at home come more quickly until one day it dawns on you that you really do belong.
Although I have lived and adjusted to life in many places, there is one particular culture that I’m still making conscious efforts to adapt to even though I’ve never been there. I am a citizen of heaven. I am the child of a Father I’ve never seen. I have a home being prepared for me that I can’t fully imagine what it will look like. Heaven. As the song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” Although I have never seen my future and eternal home, I know a few things about it. It will be a place of no more tears, no more sickness, no more fears, no more broken relationships, no more grief, no more pain of any type. It’s a place where poverty doesn’t exist, pride does not control, greed is no more, and sickness has no hold. The older I get, there is a stirring inside me; I can hardly wait! I hope those reading this are citizens, too, just passing through this present world, yearning for the next to come.
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which He will bring everything under His control.” Philippians 3:20-21