John 14:1-3: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

It’s the other way around. Note that Jesus says “When everything is ready I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” So basically – once your residency in Heaven is lined up and Jesus finished building your place, then it’s time to go.

For some reason, I always thought, it’s time to go when my work on Earth is done.

I guess, that has little or nothing to do with it.

In any event, time is a precious commodity. Time has seasons. That’s why we have to enjoy them, season by season, to take advantage of them.

It’s dangerous to get stuck in a season. We might miss the boat. But then, God is faithful, and Jesus is more than a friend. He is both our Savior and friend. And He is famous for rescuing people out of the places they are stuck.

Jesus unstuck me more than once.

I was hung up on the past. I was hung up on what could have been. I was hung up on dreams without taking any action. I was hung up on rules. I was hung up on people who were trying to dominate me. Oh, the list goes on and on.

Bottom-line: Jesus gets me out of there. He gets me unstuck.

In all of the above cases, I had to turn my thoughts around and see things differently; see things bigger; be more inclusive of other people; more generous; more openhearted. Immediately, life takes on a different color.

Heaven is much bigger than Earth. Heaven has endless space for people, all the places that Jesus prepares indicating: He is never running out of space. Think about it: so many people have died already, many more are born and many more will be added when their citizenship is applied. Heaven is full of life, full of living beings. No offense, but there are no dead people in Heaven. In Heaven we’re all alive, as alive as we are on this side of Heaven, maybe even more so.

Jesus grew up under Joseph’s tutelage who is a carpenter by trade. He probably loved to hang out in the workshop with Joseph. In the home-building industry, carpenters literally run the show. Without carpenters, no house! So, Jesus is a builder. He built the entire universe for crying out loud, and I think He especially loves building places for people. Why? He loves people. So He handcrafts a place for us. And once it’s good and ready, it’s time to go.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to find a good answer for what we feel is an untimely death. I only know this: God is never surprised. And: Heaven is never running out of space.

Poor young grandson, there’s nothing I can say
You’ll have to learn, just like me
And that’s the hardest way

John 14:6: “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’”

Jesus had a heart-to-heart talk with His disciples before He died. He is mapping out the future for them, encouraging them to stay on course and giving them a little sneak peek of heaven. He says that there is plenty of room there; He is preparing a place for them, and, when everything is ready, Jesus will personally welcome them. Heaven is a real place, and there is an unmistakable way that leads there. Jesus is confident that His disciples know the way; His disciples on the other hand – not so much. Here is a snippet of the unfolding conversation between Jesus and His disciples (John 14:4-5):

Jesus: “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas: “No, we don’t know, Lord. We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

This is when Jesus utters His famous statement, which precisely answers the question at hand:

“I am the Way the Truth and the Life.”

How come that Jesus was so confident while His disciples apparently were not? Well, I think human nature has not changed very much, and still today truth can walk right in front of us while going completely unnoticed. The secret His followers were about to discover boils down to this:

  • Jesus represents the road map to heaven.
  • Getting acquainted with Jesus, we study this road map by exploring His way of life.

I believe Jesus’ way of life is basically love in action – no broken life goes unnoticed.  Jesus loves indiscriminately, with total abandon, and no strings attached. By living His way we actually bring heaven down. We can have heaven on earth by just going about our business the way Jesus went about His. People were always on His agenda. People always came first. If we all think this way, we have heaven on earth. In a sense we have arrived. We’re already home!

“I’ve been lost in my own place, and I’m gettin’ weary
How far is heaven?
And I know that I need to change my ways of livin’
How far is heaven?”  

 Songwriters: Henry Garza / Joey Garza / Ringo Garza

Salvador live performance of “Heaven”

Psalm 19:1-2:“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”

“Skies” is a big word. Referring to space it could be the atmosphere around each planet there is. The skies referring to the Earth atmosphere form protective gas layers around the globe to absorb ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention and thereby reducing temperature extremes between day and night. Air suitable for use in photosynthesis by terrestrial plants and breathing of terrestrial beings is found in Earth’s troposphere. While the Earth has a world of craftsmanship of its own, the whole universe is a huge advertising board of God’s craftsmanship with its 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone and about 2 trillion galaxies in the known universe.

Skies’ craftsmanship as seen with the naked eye or by telescope advertises God’s glory. So do the heavens; heavens of course can’t be detected by a telescope or microscope, but there have been occasions when God opens a window, and we get to see a glimpse. It happened when Jesus was born. In the second chapter of Luke’s gospel we read (Luke 2:8-10):

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.  Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’”

In all reality the two realms – skies and heavens – intersect, and believers become progressively sensitive to that as they get familiarized with God’s kingdom. Angels are all around us. Similar to the protective gas layers around the Earth, God’s creation has protective layers of angels fighting for us. Daniel wrote about fighting angels in his book. He had been mourning for three weeks after receiving a vision about the future of mankind.  God revealed times of war and great hardship to him; absorbing the news Daniel went into shock.

Let’s try to put ourselves in Daniel’s shoes for a minute: if we lived in his day and age, around 600 years before Jesus was born, and we would have received a vision of World War II – just as an example – complete with the terrors of Holocaust and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, 1945 – imagine our state of mind! Daniel fasted and prayed in response to these disturbing visions. That led to one of those moments when God lifted the curtain to let us see what’s going on in the heavenly realm. Daniel was touched by an angel, and he records this experience in the 10th chapter of his book (Daniel 10:10-11):

“Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. And the man said to me, ‘Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you.’”

The “man” Daniel is referring to apparently is an angel. The angel continues to speak to Daniel with the following message (Daniel 10:12-13):

“Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.”

This goes to show that more than one angel are fighting behind the scene. Heaven and Earth are interconnected; and besides fighting, both Heaven and Earth proclaim God’s glory, day after day, and night after night. God’s praise never shuts up, actually, it gains momentum with each person realizing what is going on and joining this huge choir. If you haven’t done it yet, I can only encourage you to do so because all of God’s creatures have a place in the choir, and you too belong!

“All God’s creatures got a place in the choir,
Some sing low and some sing higher,
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire,
Some just clap their hands or paws or anything they got.” Bill Staines

 

Romans 8:37: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us”

The book of Joshua tells the story of Israel’s desert tribes conquering their nation’s territory, their future homeland. Taking possession of the Promised Land, Caleb from the tribe of Judah showed remarkable boldness. Joseph’s tribes on the other hand – not so much! In a meeting the two tribes of Joseph (Manasseh and Ephraim) came to their leader Joshua complaining. Reportedly, they had the following dialogue (Joshua 17:14-15):

Tribes of Joseph: “Why have you given us only one portion of land as our homeland when the Lord has blessed us with so many people?” [or: “We’re entitled to more acreage, why do you cut us short?”]

Joshua: “If there are so many of you, and if the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest where the Perizzites and Rephaites live.” [or: “People of Joseph get going! You’ve got a job to do!”]

In the end, it didn’t look like the tribes of Joseph were very happy with Joshua’s reply. But then there was the tribe of Judah with an entirely different take on the situation. Judah’s delegation led by Caleb requested a certain hill country, which happened to be the home-turf of giants. Here is a snippet of the conversation Caleb from the tribe of Judah had with Joshua (Joshua 14:12):

Caleb said: “So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me.  You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak [aka giants] living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”

Spoken like a true conqueror! There is a noticeable difference between the whining tribes of Joseph and the bold lion-tribe of Judah.

God generously pours out His gifts on His children. He has gifted us with many talents, showered us with His kind mercies giving us a new chance every time we mess up; and while God’s love is absolutely free and not for sale, He wants us to fight for the good things He holds in store for us. As much as God is passionate about us He also likes to see our passion for Him in our daily endeavors. We want to embrace the adventure God puts in our way. Remember Caleb’s spirit. We can do it! If God is for us, who can be against us? Heaven is waiting. What are we waiting for?

“Heaven is waiting just past the horizon just over the mesas across the great divide and faith is blazing this trail that I ride on up this mountain I’m praying I have the strength to climb – Heaven is waiting” (Rich Mullins & Mitch McVicker)