I just got back from a VERY wonderful church service. I have to admit, since Barclay has been born, I have not been able to concentrate at church at all. I usually have to step out when the sermon starts because Barclay gets fussy and I'm not comfortable with leaving this fussy baby in the nursery yet. So I haven't felt fed with God's word lately.
We almost didn't go to church today. We had a wonderful time a friends party last night and didn't get home till after midnight. Barclay was fussy, I was tired, it was rainy, I didn't really get up till 10:15 (although I was just playing with Barclay in the bed, not sleeping). We have to leave before 10:30 to make it to church on time since we live in the boonies. Everything was against us going today but we both took a quick shower and made it to church just 10 minutes late.
Our sermon today was about something I've struggled with my whole life...Heaven. I felt the whole time that our pastor was just taking my thoughts and turning them into words. He opened with the sentence that most Christians think of Heaven as the only other alternative to Hell. Maybe it's not that great, but it's not burning for eternity.
My whole life I've been terrified of hell. I remember my sweet mother praying every single night that when I was ready I would ask Jesus to be my saviour. At 4 years old I did, then at 5 and 6 and about 10 times afterward. Mostly because I was scared of going to hell. I went to a lot of VBSs and camps. You know, the ones with the invitation. I'm not joking when I say that I went forward to be saved WAY more than once. Sometimes because I wasn't sure and sometimes because I thought if I went forward, the pianist would stop playing "Just as I am" and the preacher would feel like he did his job for the day, because one lost soul had been saved.
My doubt is another whole post in itself...
But I'm just saying, my fear of hell was a driving force in my coming to Jesus.
I come from a missionary family. Not my immediate family, but my mother's parents. I wanted so much to be a missionary and to be a witness for Jesus.
I remember one time while swimming at a pool, I scared the living daylights out of a little boy swimming there with my stories of hell. I also told him about what Jesus had done so he didn't have to go there. Then I paid him $1 to get saved. My family was so proud of me for leading someone to Christ at such a young age...and I didn't have the heart to tell them that I paid the poor guy.
Heaven has never sounded fun to me, definitely better than burning forever, but it always sounded so boring. I would hear of people exciting and longing for heaven and it just always baffled me. Why would I want to go and sing all day long? Why would I want to give up my hobbies, enjoyments, relationships here on earth to be in an ETERNAL state of worshiping? It just sounded awful to me! And I don't think I've ever really said that out loud. I felt like, no matter how bad things get here on earth, I would not want to trade it for eternal boredom.
Oh how my heart has been lifted today! Our pastor, Josiah, used the passage of 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
He also used lots of examples of Jesus and his death and resurrection. I can't remember all the references, but this is what I got from it:
-We will have relationships. In fact the Lord is creating a new heaven and a new EARTH. It's going to be a perfect, without struggle, without pain, without war, without jealousy, without tiredness EARTH. I will be living an eternal life without the struggles of money, without the disspointments of government, without the sadness of loss.
-We are going to work and have hobbies and eat and drink together.
-We will be able to be creative in heaven. We will have the time, energy, resources to be creative! Being creative is something that keeps me ALIVE! What a joy to know that it wont stop, it will just get better!
This is the part that really warmed my heart:
-I am going to have a relationship with God that is so intimate. I am going to know everything about him, there will be no questions. There will not be a mystery or a struggle to know God because he will be right there knowing me!
Midway through the sermon my sweet husband took my fussy baby out in the hall to bounce around so that I could finish listening. I'm so thankful! Because I feel comforted and even...maybe a little excited about heaven now:-)
Because I'm not so good at explaing things, click HERE to download and listen to the sermon.