In the last few months and weeks of my dad’s life, he– necessarily– began to check out. Check out of his community, check out of relationships, and finally to check out of his body. The Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We’ve heard of people having near-death experiences walking toward the light– maybe they are slowpokes when it comes to leaving their body, they need an extra minute to get ready for what they are about to see. Because when someone believes that Jesus is the only son of the only God, the only way to the Father, and they live their life approaching the Father, when they check out of their bodies, they open their eyes in the throne room. They finally truly get to the Father.
I have imagined heaven in different ways at different times in my life. Lately, as the most massive walled, open-sky auditorium imaginable. A cross between a stadium and a palace, outfitted with immense beauty and wealth, full of light and sound, filled with nobility, and dedicated to the One. His house is continually full of thunderous worship, seas upon seas upon seas of people who lived and died knowing that He is the only way, the only truth, the only life.
It doesn’t matter anymore what my dad was good at or bad at, what his sins, failures, and shortcomings were, what he was wrong about or right about, what he prioritized and neglected. In life, as in death, the blood of Jesus pays the debt my dad owed. This is the gospel, we all sin and fall short of the glory we were meant to walk in. We all get the opportunity in this life to seek the Father and have the blood of Jesus cover for us. So when my Dad opened his eyes outside of his cancer-ridden body, the first thing he saw was Jesus and the first thing he heard was holy, holy, holy. Is the Lord God Almighty. Who was, and is, and is to come. And I know this filled him with relief… and joy. He knew how to join in, he was ready to become part of the sea of worshipers.
I believe we are all eternal beings, every single one of us. We will never actually cease to exist, matter that cannot be destroyed. My dad didn’t have a very wide circle, so I imagine all of you here are believers. But allow me to kindly address those who may not be, those who know in your gut that seeking the Father isn’t the central theme of your life. One day, we all will open our eyes beyond the capsule of our bodies. At the moment, we receive our inheritance. But this inheritance isn’t for everyone; it is reserved for sons and daughters who sought the Father in their lifetime. If that description doesn’t apply to you, this day could be when you divert course. There is still the luxury of choice lying before you.
I Corinthians 15
50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters (sons and daughters), is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.
57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, (sons and daughters) be strong and immovable.
Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.