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Heaven on My Mind--Or Not  

How much do you think about heaven? 

The angel, Gabriel, flew down from the celestial glories to visit a pastor as he prepared a sermon on heaven. The angel promised he would answer the pastor's single most pressing question about life in the bliss to come.  So the pastor asked Gabriel if there would be golf courses in heaven, and if so, what was their condition.

“Pastor, you’ll be excited to know we certainly have golf courses in heaven,” the angel smiled. “The fairways are, of course, immaculate. The scenery is agonizingly beautiful.  What’s more, I looked at the schedule and noted we have you down for a foursome—-this Saturday morning!”

Everybody wants to go to heaven.  Just not today.  Why?  More to the point, why do we secretly feel so drawn to this world—and distracted from the world to come? I admit that I resonate with Richard Baxter.  In his classic book, "The Saint's Everlasting Rest," he asks tough questions:

“What interest has this empty world in me?  What is there in it that seems so lovely, as to entice my desires from God, or make me loathe to come away?   When I look upon earth with a deliberate eye, it is a howling wilderness, and too many of its inhabitants are untamed monsters.” 

Our preoccupation with the here and now is at odds with Scripture. 1 John 2:15 warns, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.”

Perhaps Baxter's most persuasive argument comes with his observation, "So much as the world is loved and delighted in, it hurts and endangers the lover.  And if it may not be loved, why should it be desired?”

Do you struggle to love the idea of heaven?  You are not alone. But let's not give up.  The answer is to continually "Set your mind on things above," as Paul urges in Colossians 3. After all, heaven is not so far.

“Yonder is the region of light!  This is a land of darkness.  Yonder twinkling stars, that shining moon, and radiant sun, are all but lanterns hung out by your Father’s house; to light you while you walk in this dark world.”

It’s time to get honest with God about heaven.  Time to set our hearts—and our minds—on “things above.”   Baxter’s brief prayer says it best:

"O, let not this flesh so seduce my soul, as to make it prefer this weary life before the joys that are about your throne!"

 

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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