11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
For the Christian, all roads lead to heaven. No telling what you’ll have to go through to get there, but one day you’ll be admitted to that place Jesus promised to prepare for you. And it’s because of that, whatever you’re required to endure, you can “rejoice and be glad.”
I must confess, I haven’t devoted much time to contemplating or anticipating life in heaven. Not that I don’t fully expect to arrive there some day. Maybe I take it for granted. I sure hope that’s not the case. Or possibly it’s just greater than my mind can comprehend. But as I read our focus text, I may have discovered the reason.
The context of Jesus’ instruction is in anticipation of persecution. And we know He was persecuted, as were the prophets, and His disciples. You never feel closer to God than those times when your life is on the line.
Senior Christians show a greater interest in heaven than younger generations of believers. When you’re young, you have a sense of invulnerability. The end of the line seems a long way off. But for seniors, the day of departure draws nearer.
I’ve sat with many people who were at death’s door. Hospitalized or cared for in the home under the watchful eye of Hospice, they talked about heaven and seeing their loved ones again. When hope on this earth fades, the hope of heaven comes into sharper focus. At the end of pain and suffering is a great reward, far greater than the trials and tribulations here on earth.
My grandmother used to talk about the indescribable beauty of heaven. “We’ll walk on streets of gold,” she would say. She lived a hard life, suffered a heart attack, and outlived four children and her husband. She had never known anything but hard work. Came into the world in poverty and soon after she and my grandfather were wed, they encountered the Great Depression. But despite a life beset with tragedies, she had the faith that moves mountains. Heaven wasn’t just a concept like a mist in her mind, but a reality she looked forward to.
Near the end, she told me she had a dream about heaven. She said that in that glorious place there was beautiful music, and I was playing my trombone. Yes. It was only a dream. But we know there’s a heavenly chorus. And Jesus’ return will follow the sound of a trumpet. So why not a trombonist? Just kidding. Whatever God has for me to do in heaven will be more satisfying than anything I’ve done on earth.
Fact is, no matter how tough your life gets on this earth, your story has the happiest of all endings. But that ending is actually the great beginning.
You’ve had victories in your life; enjoyed your share of sweet success. But after the euphoria of winning subsided, life returned to the same old routine. When you get to heaven, you’ll enter the victors’ circle and stay there forever. And your reward will never lose its meaning or power.
So what about those streets of gold? Is that just a dream, or is there Biblical evidence to back it up? Actually, it’s not just the streets that will be magnificent. I’ll leave you today with this description of heaven from the book of the Revelation.
18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. Revelation 21:18-21
For more on this topic, check out this article: Heaven is a Choice and Not Mandatory
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.