I am reading a book of near-death experiences, I Believe in Heaven: Real Stories from the Bible, History and Today. Written by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk, it is a compilation of many people’s stories of going to heaven and returning to tell about it. In each case the individual did not want to return, but did so because there was work still to do.
This is a captivating book and gratitude is due the authors for skillfully summarizing numerous stories on what heaven is like. The similarities are there: the glorious and indescribable beauty of heaven, the sounds of music like we have never heard, the appearances of Jesus, being greeted by family or friends now living in eternity, the total, embracing love of God and joy in being with Him. But it is the reasons for return that give pause to ponder—that work left undone.
One person’s story says the sins he believed most grievous were not what was of concern in heaven; rather, it was the things he should have done and didn’t, the missed opportunities for service. And therein lies something for we who remain earthbound to think about. Not to discount any sin, but to consider what we are passing by and leaving undone and the potential value of those deeds.
It is a normal thing for individuals to want great things to accomplish. It gives a sense of knowing one’s purpose in living, provides a marker for their existence once gone. However it is important to remember man cannot see great things the way the Lord does, for God sees the beginning and the end of things and all the blessed offshoots along the way. An incident we may see as insignificant could lead to a trickle down effect of tremendous greatness for the kingdom of God.
Colossians 3:17 says Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. We are admonished to regard every action we take as opportunity to touch someone’s life in a positive way, to sow for the harvest of God, and build up personal treasures in heaven. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going (Ecclesiastes 9:10). In other words, a time comes when the door of opportunity is soundly closed.
Holy Spirit, Counselor of God, we implore You to remind us moment by moment that we are the instruments of God. Press upon us the things You would have us do that we might not miss opportunities to do the work of the kingdom before us. Reform our hearts to submission and obedience and remove from us our attempts to determine what is valuable. In the name of the One who alone is worthy, amen.