PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• My grandmother didn’t get angry at me very often. But in one situation, I ignited in her a fierce rage of epic proportions: I rearranged her kitchen cabinets.
My grandmother, bless her soul, hated to cook, and had one of the most inefficient kitchens I’ve ever seen. It was neat and clean, but the arrangement, from an efficiency standpoint, made no sense. As one who likes to cook, I thought what I was doing was helpful. But I honestly don’t remember another time she was that angry at me. I apologized profusely, as I began to put everything back in its original, inefficient place, while she seethed in the living room.
Now, I’m going to put a pin here, and we’ll come back to it.
In the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), we often focus on the rich man’s experience in hell. But let’s visit an important detail in the story that is on the opposite end of the spectrum—the poor man’s (Lazarus) trip to heaven. Verse 22 says, “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side” (Luke 16:22a ESV).
That verse has brought me so much comfort this year. One year ago today, my mom and I were kneeling beside my grandmother as she took her last breath on earth and her first breath in heaven.
I wish I could take credit for that phrase—“her last breath on earth and her first breath in heaven.” Pastor Greg Laurie speaks those words in regards to Christians who die. He says it often. I have listened to a number of sermons on heaven this year, many of them by Pastor Laurie. One of my favorites is on YouTube and titled “Jesus, the Bible, and the Afterlife.”
In my Mamo’s final moments, I literally felt like my heart was broken. And I’ve shed many tears for her this year because I miss her more than I can say. But if it were within my scope of power to bring her back, there is absolutely no way I would.
I saw her anger rage because I rearranged her kitchen. I cannot imagine how angry she’d be at me if I pulled her back from Jesus, my Papo, and life in heaven.
My Mamo is healthy, whole, and with her Savior. And my mom and I share the distinct honor of having been with her when an angel escorted her from earth to heaven, where she met Jesus face-to-face. What an incredible privilege.
In learning more about heaven this year, I often think of the story of the other Lazarus in the Bible—the one Jesus raised from the dead in John 11:1-44. After Mamo died, I took a lot of comfort in the fact that though Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the grave, and though He knew Lazarus was in heaven, Jesus still wept (John 11:35). But a question I’ve wondered about often—how did Lazarus feel about to be raised from the dead? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I can’t help but wonder if Lazarus wasn’t pretty mad at his sisters for asking Jesus for that particular miracle… after all, He was healthy and in heaven.
I wonder if Lazarus and Mamo have met. I wonder if he’s shared his experience of returning to earth and if my Mamo has counted with, “Oh my granddaughter wouldn’t hear the end of that if she did that to me! She tried to rearrange my kitchen one time, and I think she knows better…”
Heaven is real, and it’s because of Jesus that we can have hope. When we accept His gift of salvation, we know that physical death is only the beginning. For our loved ones who have trusted in Christ and gone before us, we can praise through our pain because our hurting hearts are only temporary. A heavenly reunion is coming because of God’s love and Jesus’ victory over death.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for making a way for us to spend eternity with Him. Thank Him for our loved ones who are there in His presence. And ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to live in a way that you can be a bold witness for others… ask Him to use you to show others the way to Jesus.