I am so glad that February is almost over. For the shortest month of the year it feels like it has dragged along, pulling me under in its wake. Normally, I don’t mind February. But not this year. The falling snow and plummeting temperatures have zapped my energy. It has been a challenge to stay productive. And most days, lethargy dominates. Even though I haven’t been doing much I have been thinking. And reading. Examining my life.
Pete suggested a while ago that I blog about Heaven. Writing about it hasn’t happened, at least until now, but it has been on my mind. A lot. The Bible says in Colossians 3:2 to “set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.” (HCSB). As a Christian woman, whose hope is in Heaven, how much of my time should I spend thinking about it?
In the months following Arlynne’s death I often thought about Heaven. She was not the first in my family to go there but she was the closest one to me. I had lost both sets of grandparents already. A number of aunts and uncles. I knew some of them were there. Some I wondered about. But I knew Arlynne is there. I know. So naturally, when I thought about Arlynne, I often thought about Heaven.
I can’t imagine not believing in Heaven though I know a lot of people wonder. I don’t want to believe that this is it. That this life is all there is. Life is hard. Stressful. Painful. Hopeless. But it doesn’t have to be. Jesus said Himself in John 14:3 that I can be with Him in a place He has prepared for me when I die. A place where I won’t be bound by sin and death. A place where I will live without pain or sadness. Without fear. Where I will experience supernatural peace. That sounds perfect to me. Not only will I spend eternity with my Saviour, I will be reunited with Arlynne.
Choosing to live life with a focus on Heaven definitely changes my view. When I focus my life on earth I can become overly concerned with myself. My body, my possessions, my success. It is easy to buy into the myth. It is what most of our society works on. I have to be thin and healthy. I have to have all the best stuff. I need to be the best at anything I do. I might even be able to convince myself that somehow I will be able to cheat death. That it won’t get me. That I can live forever.
I read a book recently by Jen Hatmaker entitled “Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity”. This book wrecked me. I was already suffering from the season and feeling like I wasn’t really cutting it. Reading this book was like throwing gasoline on a fire. It didn’t help. What it did do was start me questioning how I was conducting my life. I love how the book speaks about living counter-culturally. The way that Jesus did. The way we need to live to reveal our Loving God to the world. To stop trying to climb the ladder of success and hang out at the bottom. A place where all the things of this world don’t matter nearly as much. Living sacrificially. Sharing Heaven with people who need to hear about it. I want that. But it also forced me to re-examine my mind-set. Am I living with eternity in mind or am I just caught up in the mundane rat race?
The Bible says that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I am not to defile it. I need to treat it with respect for my Creator. But it does not say that my body is to be worshipped. When I spend all my time trying to control everything that I put into my mouth my priorities become askewed. If working out becomes more important than spending time with God then there is something wrong. My body is only a tent for my spirit. Temporary. When my life here is done, I won’t need it anymore. I will get a new body in Heaven. So I need to keep it in perspective.
We had a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine come and speak at our church a few months ago. I don’t remember the title of the series that it was part of. I believe the point was on living a better, healthier life. I really couldn’t buy into that. I don’t want to offend anyone but I really don’t care how long I live here. Yes, it might be shocking to hear someone my age say that. I was shocked a number of years ago when someone I had known for years told me that. He is a Christian guy, married, a dad but he said he couldn’t wait for Heaven. I just thought that it was odd for him to feel like that. Then Arlynne died. And I got it.
In the months following Arlynne’s death there was nothing I wanted more than to be in Heaven. No, I wasn’t suicidal but I was fixed on Heaven. I didn’t feel like anything else mattered. Not my kids who are still here. Not Pete. Nothing. I wasn’t going to do anything to myself to speed my departure but I also did not feel inclined to do anything to prolong my life either. I was not searching for the fountain of youth or the next lifestyle fad to extent my life. I didn’t want to be here. Heaven was much more appealing. It was that simple.
I understand now, though, that I need to live in balance. I need to have my mind fixed in such a way that I don’t only think about Heaven but about this life too. I need to realize that I have a God-given purpose here. Now. I have a job to do. A Holy commission. And I need to live my life treating my body in a way that it can perform what I need to do for Him. I need to be aware but not obsessed. Diligent but not possessive. Just like God gives me everything I have and I aim give some back to Him and share it with others, I need to understand that my body is a gift that He has given to me and I need to serve Him with it.
Arlynne’s last week was spent in a camp in Northern Ontario. It was a bit primitive and every morning the camp director’s husband would have to get up to get the hot water heater going for the day. Jim would ask Arlynne every night if she had hot water for her shower that morning. The answer was always no. She had been up before him. The last morning he finally got up early enough for her to have a warm shower. He then asked her why she always got up so early, long before the other counsellors or the kids. She said that there was just so much to do. She wanted to be up and showered so that she could spend some time with God before everyone else started their day. There was no time for rest. Those kids were too important.
Sometimes I think that God gave Arlynne a hint that her time was short. Maybe she knew and maybe she didn’t. Regardless, she lived her life making every minute count. And that is the way that God wants me to live. I know how life’s monotonous tasks can weigh me down. There is always something pulling me back towards this life. Last Saturday all I wanted to do was write a blog about Heaven but there was laundry to do, a request from Karissa for some special homemade bread to take back to school and constant demands from the kids. By the time all those other things were finished, so was I. And now, finally, almost a week later, I am getting to what God put on my heart. If I am not careful I can easily fill my life with things that are temporary and miss out on the good, Godly tasks that “God prepared in advance for [me] to do” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV). I can lose my focus and forget about Heaven.
So this life is a balancing act. The here and now is on one side of the scale while eternity and Heaven sits on the other. I am so thankful that there is something else. Somewhere else to go after this earthly toil. I would love to go right now but I have a feeling God has something else for me to do. So I wait for Heaven knowing it will be worth the wait.