I’ll never forget what one of my older friends said when her son died unexpectedly: “Heaven seems nearer.” Although she was a widow who had endured hardship and pain, she lived her life with verve and joy. In her sadness over losing her son, she sought God’s perspective and, in doing so, felt the distance lessen between God’s kingdom on earth and His kingdom in heaven.
Toward the end of his life, John, a disciple of Jesus, received a series of visions of God’s kingdom to come, which we have recorded in the book of Revelation. We may find the imagery and allusions hard to understand, but the early church, for whom it was written, wouldn’t have found it so jarring. They regularly read the apocalyptic visions found in the Old Testament books of Ezekiel and Daniel.
Revelation 21 encourages us to ask God to help us hold strongly to His promises of the good things to come when “the old heaven and the old earth” will disappear (Revelation 21:1), transformed by God’s heavenly glory (Revelation 21:10). Our God commits to make His home with us, not only wiping our tears but removing the specter of death and pain and sorrow and crying altogether (Revelation 21:3-4). We will be filled with joy beyond measure as we live in His presence, worshiping Him and enjoying full communion with others.
My friend has since died, and so her remark seems even more poignant. Although I miss her, I also find hope in her example of turning to God and seeking His perspective. Like my friend, I’m striving to passionately live out the joy God provides, even as I look forward to being in Jesus’ presence in the renewed creation. And as I reflect on that future reality, I smile, for heaven seems nearer.
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”