It’s been nearly a year since my last conversation with Granny, but her final words still haven’t left me.
Last summer, after a long battle with her sickness, her health began rapidly declining. What I least wanted to happen was near, so I dialed the phone knowing it would be our last conversation. As we spoke, she struggled to catch her breath and sometimes panicked. Selfishly, I didn’t want to hang up knowing her time was short, but just speaking on the phone was such a chore for her and I didn’t want her to struggle anymore.
With tears welling in my eyes, I told her goodbye and that I loved her. I knew it was my last goodbye, but I didn’t know if she thought that so I didn’t say it out loud. However, her next phrase made it clear she understood. She told me, “If I don’t see you again in this life, I’ll see you in heaven.”
She had already told me she was ready to be with the Lord. She believed the gospel and had lived a life of faithful devotion to God. She endured many hardships, experienced much loss (including the murder of my father), and yet she endured it all with an ironclad faith. I miss her, but thankful she is now fully experiencing the Lord and all he has promised for those who love him.
No More Night
The idea of heaven is central to my beliefs. God has prepared a place for those who receive forgiveness of their sin through repentance and faith in Christ alone, people who otherwise deserve condemnation. Heaven is not a place for those who are perfect, for then none of us could enjoy it, but it’s for those who are broken over their sin and cry out for God to forgive them.
I have no doubt that God has prepared such a place for those who love him. The most beautiful place on this earth will not come close to the beauty of heaven. God has promised that in the place he has prepared there is no sin, no corruption, no death to mourn, no heartbreak, no struggle, no health issues, and no tears. Instead, it will far exceed our greatest moment we’ve ever experienced on this earth. There will be joy unspeakable that never stops, praises to God that never ceases, and fellowship with one another never hindered by anger or jealousy. Revelation 21 and 22 provide a picture and such a place. Here is a snapshot:
The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever (Rev. 22:1-5)
I can picture my Granny chuckling after telling a joke or playing a prank on someone. I can hear her raspy voice tell a story while I wait for the punch line I know is coming. But, I can’t picture what it’s like where she is now. Heaven is beyond anything I could ever imagine, and the same granny who I can picture is there now, enjoying it.
This doesn’t make me miss her any less, but it does give me hope and even a smile.
Inside or Outside the City?
After providing such a glorious picture of the city God has prepared for us in Revelation, Jesus ends the chapter, and the Bible, with these words:
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (22:12-15).
My Granny’s robes were not clean because of her works, for, like all of us, she had sinned and stained her clothes. But, she trusted in Christ and pleaded with him to wash her robes. And, when we do that, he promises to wash them whiter than snow. When our robes are cleansed, we have access to the city that God has prepared for those who believe in him.
We never know when death is coming, but it will come. Then, each of us will either be allowed access into the city or left outside. Heed the call of the Holy Spirit before it is too late: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price (Revelation 22:17).
After my conversation with my Granny, I never saw her again in this life. But, through Christ, I have hope that I will see her again in heaven.