The Reason is Heaven … in 2011!
Isaiah 1:18: “ ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord.”
The Reason is:
Right—Revelation 2:7: “… I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”;
Ready—John 14:3: “… I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again” (AMP);
Real—John 10:27-28: “My sheep … follow me. I give them real and eternal life” (MSG).
John 12:27: “… it was for this very reason I came.”
This past year brought Heaven more to mind than ever before as I experienced the loss of close friends and family. While Heaven has been in this believer’s heart since the age of seven, the deaths of a few beloved friends were so abrupt that the shock overwhelmed me—I had expected that we would have more time together. Even though I know this life is only a prelude to the real home we pilgrim believers will inherit, these early deaths got my attention. I needed to listen for God’s voice to help me make sense of the pain. And he did not let me down. As I quieted my heart and mind, I asked him to show me the reason for losing the people we think we need for life and living.
As I reflected on my grief, the word “reason” would not go away. These things had happened, but I wasn’t able to reason it through. It made no sense to me. Then Jesus’ words came to me: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). God doesn’t always make his decisions easy for those on earth to deal with. God doesn’t have to ask our permission. I would never ask God why. We will all face death. We will all make decisions about how we will respond to death.
It’s never easy to lose a loved one. It’s important that we talk about our grief with God and our fellow Christians. Together, let’s ponder anew what the Almighty can do in and through us in the coming year.
The Word of God makes eternity something that has to be in front of us at all times. One never knows from one day to the next when our number will be called and we will leave this earth. Life and death are held in the timing of God alone. None of us knows the day, hour or situation when we will be whisked to our heavenly home. Breath will stop and we will be face-to-face with God, the creator, preserver and governor of all things. Isn’t this reason enough to stop and reflect on our lives? It is reason enough for me!
A few years ago I listened to a vocal student perform David Meece’s We Are the Reason. The lyrics have stayed with me:
“We are the reason that he gave his life,
We are the reason that he suffered and died.
To a world that was lost, he gave all he could give,
To show us the reason to live.”
As Jesus communicated his divine purpose, he made me able to reason through my loss. I was able to calm the heavy-hearted grief that felt overwhelming. In light of Heaven, everything became clear. All the whys in Christ are answered through his Word. The reason for life and death is Heaven.
My mother often said, “There is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun.” Yes, the reason God allows the two extremes of crushing pain and ultimate joy is Heaven. We are all tested as we choose whether to do God’s will or follow our own path. Both choices can be difficult to maneuver, but only one way leads to eternity with God. When faced with the choice between doing what feels good and easy and staying the course of service, we must listen to God’s Word and “store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven” (see Matthew 6:19-21).
Imminent death and rapid departure from earth become part of the reason for our service. And so we continue to be obedient to the way of the cross that leads to our heavenly home. Therefore it is not fear but delight that we find.
For loss and gain, God allows. God is, after all, in control. You can rely on that. God’s Word is truth. So come, let us join together and recognize that Heaven is the reason after all. And God’s reason is real, right and ready.
If you, too, are experiencing a valley in the shadow of death, please feel free to connect with me. Let’s talk.
Commissioner Marilyn D. Francis is Territorial President of Women’s Ministries for Canada and Bermuda. Her husband, Commissioner William W. Francis, is the Territorial Commander. Commissioner Marilyn Francis is an accomplished vocalist and pianist. She has produced an audio recording of vocal and keyboard improvisation of hymns and gospel songs titled Just a Closer Walk. Commissioners Francis have two adult children, Captain William Marshall and Susan Marjorie, plus six grandchildren.