Thursday, May 17, 2012


Some get the faulty impression that God is a kill joy with a list of dos and don'ts and a club to wield His power, but that is simply not true.  The Bible is chock full of celebration, and describes a God who is good with our best interests in mind.  I've been studying the feasts which God instigated for Israel in commemoration of various events, such as the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles, but the greatest celebration is still yet to come . . . our entrance into heaven.
The here after will be terrifying for those who do not know God because all will kneel before Him and acknowledge that He is Lord . . . and heaven will evade them.  Only those who have put their faith and hope in Jesus will experience the glorious celebration of heaven.  Until recent years, I'd never thought much about the rewards we will receive there, because, well, it is not kosher for believers to seek accolades.  And yet the Bible does speak of rewards given and I've been keenly aware of it in the recent graduation of my daughter.  What an illustration of that day when we will be acknowledged for those things on which God places value. 
Each graduate has come to this point on the grounds of faithfulness, day after day showing up at school and participating in classes, completing homework . . . where most do not see and many do not know.  But it all comes to light on graduation day, when each is deemed eligible to wear the robe and receive a diploma which says, "well done, good and faithful servant." (Matt. 25:23)  But these grads would not be here at all if they had not first entered the world of education to start with.  And in heaven no one will be there who has not first cried out to Jesus for their salvation from sin.  That is our entrance pass.  But once we have the pass, we prepare for that place, "gettin' ready for glory." 
Before the commencement, Heather with hat off, head bowed.

The rest of us, waiting her entrance.
Every graduate wears the robe, but only some are decorated . . . tassels, medals, stoles, cords, and for an elite few, the privilege of speaking on a platform.  Likewise in heaven there will be differing rewards given as motives of the heart and our life in the Spirit are revealed.  At times we elevate things here on earth which may amount to nothing in heaven, and often the unseen sacrifices are what God deems valuable.  We can do a lot of bragging and receive much praise from men, but God's eye is turned toward the heart that is completely His.  The devoted heart grabs His attention. (2 Chron. 16:9)
As we gathered in the stadium my thoughts were drawn to the kingdom of heaven, where 5,000 is only a speck compared to the billions of witnesses waiting expectant and eager to watch us receive our reward.  But most importantly, these rewards will be coming from God Himself!  And how much more valuable the reward when it is given from such a worthy source.  I think tears will flow.   Not tears of pain, but tears of overwhelming joy, and "God will wipe away all tears from our eyes" as we realize the extent of His favor.  (Rev. 7:17)
Yet to see this event, each parent and guest endured discomfort for several hours.  We sat on hard metal benches, squished up beside strangers invading our personal space, sunlight glaring into our eyes . . . simply to catch the name of our son or daughter and to watch them walk across the stage to receive their diploma.
Likewise, we endure the trials of this day that we might know the delight of that day.  What joy at encouraging others in their success!  There are no jealousies with others getting higher honor, no spiteful thoughts, only exuberant gladness shared with a crowd of others.
But perhaps my favorite part is immediately after the graduation, when those 5,000 guests pour out onto the field looking for the person they know and want to personally congratulate.  It is an experience like none other, except, perhaps, in heaven, where we will look for those special individuals gone before. 

Yet, even as we searched the field for our daughter, we ran into so many others that we know.  What pleasure to congratulate them as well.  And I can scarcely imagine all the people we will recognize and 'bump into', as the atmosphere of celebration permeates every corner of heaven.  What a day that will be!  Mingling with Paul, John, Esther, Abraham, Isaiah, David, Grandma, Grandpa, brothers, sisters, cousins, and scores of others.
Yet, getting out on the field is a challenge because so many people must file through the gate.  As we tried to find our way through the aisles, moving slowly against the wire fence, we felt rather like sheep.  We could not see the field very well, (although we knew it was there), and we could not weasel our way through the crowd.  We were trapped within it, moving at a snail's pace, step by step.  Fearful of losing track of my family, I made certain that my youngest was holding the hand of my oldest, and that the middle one and grandparents were being watched out for.  

We too, are much like sheep in our way toward heaven, led by our Shepherd as He bids us follow, one step at a time, closer to that place. Heaven remains veiled to us now, and we cannot even see beyond the people in our immediate vicinity, but sometimes we catch a glimpse of it through the fence when a precious one passes through the portal.  Meanwhile, we must completely trust the hand holding ours to lead us in our journey to that place.
Today, just two days after graduation, my daughter reports for work at her summer job.  And the graduation, while an incredible milestone, is not really an end in itself.  Likewise, our time on this earth is only preparation for our niche, what we are made for, in heaven.  But sitting around on a cloud playing a harp does not fire my rocket. (I'm so glad that is not the accurate teaching on heaven from the Bible.)  No, Jesus tells us we will reign with Him!  (Rev. 20:6)  I don't know what or who we will be reigning over exactly, but each of us will have a specific purpose, a calling that we have been prepared for.  Now that gets me excited!
 Thank you Heather, for the chance to see such a glorious picture of heaven.  You have done well, receiving cords for your GPA, service hours, music and art honors, and your advanced placement class achievements.  These awards have been gained through sweat and tears, but these awards may someday be forgotten, gathering dust in a box somewhere.  Yet the character gained and the influence left behind will remain forever.

However, my greatest desire and prayer is that you continue to follow after God with all your heart so that when you graduate into heaven, you will receive your reward in full.  These are the rewards which will last for eternity and will fill your hands and heart so you might have something to give . . . to lay at the feet of Jesus in worship.
What a day that will be
when my Jesus I shall see,
and I look upon His face,
the one who saved me by His grace.
When He takes me by the hand
and leads me to the promised land,
what a day, glorious day that will be. 
by Jim Hill


  1. What a beautiful tribute to a lovely girl! And wonderful snapshot of Heaven! :)

    I don't know if we were supposed to RSVP to the Graduate BBQ on Friday ... but we're coming! :)

  2. No need to RSVP, but glad you are coming!

  3. What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see!

  4. I think it is great that you are studying God's feasts which He gave to ancient Israel. Each one represents a particular step in the salvation of mankind. For example, Passover represents the sacrifice of Crhist.

    Pentecost represents the Church as first fruits to God, not the main spiritual harvest to come later, but the small early harvest of souls. As I point out in my article about Pentecost, every person who has been born and died without having a chance to hear the true gospel will have a chance for salvation, and no one will be left out because of circumstances of birth.

    God is indeed a very fair and merciful God.

  5. Hmmmmmm, not sure I can agree with everything stated in your comment. We cannot make the Scriptures fit what is comfortable for us. The only "step" in our salvation is to believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day . . . to pay the punishment of sin which is ours. We live in the age of His favor, when He has not come to condemn the world, but to save it. However, when He returns it will be to judge the earth. And there will be no second chances. (In like a Lamb, out like a Lion) We cannot fathom everything about God and His ways, but I can trust He is fair and merciful without having to sort out the hows and whys.