In the final years of his life, a lifelong Bible teacher found his faith challenged. First, a degenerative nerve disease confined him to bed, impeding him from most of the activities that gave him pleasure. Then his thirty-nine-year-old daughter battled a severe form of diabetes. Along with the illnesses, financial pressures mounted.
In the midst of the crisis, he composed a Christmas letter and mailed it to others in the family. He felt uneasy about many of the things that he had once taught, but he wanted to express what he believed with certainty. So, he came up with these three things: “Life is difficult. God is merciful. Heaven is sure.” He believed he could count on these three things. When his daughter died of diabetic complications the very next week, he clung to those truths ever more fiercely.
“Life is difficult. God is merciful. Heaven is sure.”
I feel the need to mention it as we enter Holy Week and Easter.
Holy Week reminds us that life is hard.
Good Friday reminds us that God is merciful.
Easter reminds us heaven is sure.
Like the liturgy my church sang when I was a boy, “As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be.” As it was in the beginning of Genesis, when God walked with us in the Garden, when God made God’s home among us and we felt most at home when we were with God, so it is promised now and shall ever be our hope. We will be uninterrupted with our heavenly Father. The only way we get through this life without losing our minds, our heart, and our hope is to hang on to this promise of heaven.
I believe heaven is my heart’s home. It is the place where I finally belong. I believe that at the end of my life’s journey when I leave behind everything I have known – the good, the bad, the – God will have prepared exactly what I need to calm my worries. When I get there and see what God has in mind, I believe I’ll say, “It’s good to be home.”
Do you know what it’s like, to have heaven as your heart’s home? Do you know the incredible difference this hope of heaven can make in your life?
Harry Denman, a Methodist layperson (not a pastor) told the story of speaking at a series of meetings at City Temple in London for Dr. Leslie Weatherhead. While in his office one day, a call came from a rundown rooming house. A prostitute, who was dying, had asked for a Methodist minister. The pastor asked Dr. Denman to go with him. When they arrived Weaterhead asked Denman to minister to the dying woman.
Harry Denman entered the room and introduced himself. Then he simply said, “Tell me your story.” Her name was Mary. She was alone in the world, no family, no true friends. For too many years and in too many ways, her life had taken wrong turns. In fits of depression, she had turned to alcohol, and then to drugs, and then to prostitution to pay for her addictions. But the true payment was the total collapse of her health. Her body couldn’t take the punishment any longer. She said, “I need someone to talk to God for me. I don’t believe God will listen to a person like me.”
Harry Denman knelt beside her bed, bowed his head, and prayed silently. When he finished he held Mary’s hand and said, “Mary, I just talked to Papa. Papa says he loves you and it is all right to come home.”
That was God’s word for Mary. And that’s God’s word for you and me. Poppa says “It is all right to come home.” Our final destination is not a hospital. It is not hopelessness. But our final destination is a home, a heart home. For Mary and for you and for me it does not matter the history we have weathered, we belong. It does not matter the miles we have traveled, we belong. It does not matter the bumps or bruises or burials we have borne, we belong. Why?
John, the writer of The Revelation put it this way:
“The home of God is among mortals (humanity)…and we are God’s and God Himself will be with us. And God will wipe every tear from our eyes. And death will be no more; and mourning and crying and pain will be no more.”
Isn’t that great to know? Heaven is not just a hope, heaven is a home. Heaven is a heart home where we belong. At the end of the day, whether it has been weary or wonderful, whether we have been victors or victims, at the end of the day, when our bodies can go no further, we can still go home.
It is my prayer, as we prepare for Palm Sunday and Holy Week, that you and I do not miss the chance, here on earth, to begin investing in eternity so that heaven can be our heart’s home.