When we moved to our little community several years ago, we had the good fortune of buying a house next door to Gerald and Catherine Taylor, a retired pastor and his wife, originally from El Dorado. It didn't take us long to become acquainted, and in the past few years, they have become very precious to us. They quickly became like grandparents to our girls, and "Brother Gerald" was the first person we called when Hannah was diagnosed with her brain tumor. He came down the hill to our house, and spent quite a bit of time with us that evening, praying for us and comforting us as we processed this frightening news. He shared Nahum 1:7 with us that evening, "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him", and that verse became our theme as we walked through Hannah's cancer journey. When it was time for Hannah's "Life Celebration" after she went to Heaven, we knew we wanted him to lead the service, and he did.
Occasionally, Brother Gerald preaches at our church, and for the past several Sunday evenings he's been preaching a series of sermons about the basic tenets of the Christian faith. I love to hear him preach. He's one of those preachers who has so much Scripture memorized, he is able to weave it seamlessly into his sermons without ever glancing down at his Bible. It amazes me.
Anyway, this past Sunday evening, Brother Gerald took his place behind the pulpit and stated his sermon topic: "Eight Things We Need To Know About Heaven." What do you know...My favorite topic! I started scrambling around for some paper and a pencil to take notes, and didn't have a thing with me. So, at the risk of people thinking I was texting during church, I grabbed my phone, opened up the Notes app, and got busy.
Here are his eight points:
1. Heaven is a real, actual place. "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:2-3." It is a prepared place for a prepared people.
2. Heaven is always described as a perfect place. It is a place of perfect knowledge, perfect rest, and perfect joy. All mysteries will be revealed. I really like thinking about how wise Hannah must be now. It does not bother me a bit that she has far surpassed her Mom in knowledge! I look forward to her teaching me someday!
3. Heaven is a populated place. "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' Rev. 7: 9-10." Cool to think about, isn't it?
4. Heaven is a permanent place. The Greek word used in John 14 referring to "my Father's house" specifically refers to a "permanent dwelling that never changes."
5. Heaven is a beautiful place. One of the costliest, most valuable substances on earth, gold, is so common there, they make streets out of it. "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Rev. 21: 2". Heaven is full of the beauty of holiness. There is nothing there that can defile it.
6. Heaven is a place of unbroken fellowship. Yes, we will have eternal fellowship with our friends and loved ones who have gone on before, but we will also have eternal fellowship with God Himself. "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. I Thess. 4: 17."
7. Heaven is a place of reward. "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. Rev. 22:12." Our greatest reward will be the people who are in Heaven because of us.
8. Heaven is our home. There is no need for a passport or tourist visa. This world is like a hotel room...temporary at best. Heaven is our real home.
That was the end of Brother Gerald's sermon. So these last two points are mine. (We can't have only 8 on the 10th now, can we?)
9. Heaven is the place we were created for. If we feel incomplete here, and I certainly do, it's because this is not where we belong. We were created for something so much better!
10. Heaven is the place where Hannah is. We didn't "lose" her on February 26, 2009 ... We know exactly where she is. And I am looking forward to the day I see her again in that real, perfect, populated, beautiful, permanent, rewarding home, where our fellowship will be eternally unbroken!