As a pastor who deals with death on a consistent basis I have found that occasionally it will affect my faith and joy.  Of course my faith is confident in eternal life, but it’s very easy to see sadness and loss so often on earth that darkness hovers over my heart. If I’m not careful, I can become fixated on the pain and unanswered questions so much that I’m left in a fog of doubt and defeat.  Maybe you have found yourself drifting to such a place in the recent past as a result of loss to loved ones in your life.

In November, a good friend at TrueNorth encouraged me to check out a book about heaven that she enjoyed. During the holidays I picked up the book Imagine Heaven and was captivated.  The book by John Burke is an inspiring journey through the Bible’s picture of heaven, colored in with the real-life stories of heaven’s wonders. Burke compares gripping stories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) to what Scripture says about our biggest questions of heaven: What is God like? Will I be myself? Will I see friends and loved ones? What will it look like? What will we do forever? The book gave me a fresh view of heaven that lifted my heart and stirred within me a powerful reminder that death is not the end but merely a doorway to the marvelous presence of God’s light and love found in Jesus. 

As I read Imagine Heaven, I was reminded of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:1,2 :

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” 

Sometimes the heaviness of grief and loss on this earth can cause us to lose focus on the certainties of heaven.  Losing people we love can be difficult because we miss them dearly and daily.

However, we must continually choose to set our minds on the glory and hope of heaven knowing what God has planned for those who have placed their faith in Jesus. As Paul states, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9).