If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there? (page 15)Still, when I read that today, I am struck to my heart. How do I truly answer this question? I know what I'm supposed to say. After all, I'm a pastor. Christ is All! I can even tell you where to find that verse.
What will be heaven for me?
This question became more real a week ago. My son who is 6 became sick. He was complaining of bad headaches and had a high fever for several days. He said that his joints were hurting and he definitely was not himself. Things became most concerning on Saturday when he began to cry and hold his chest over his heart. "My chest hurts daddy." At that moment, mine did too. I began to worry. I prayed and truly wondered if the Lord was taking my son. Was I going to join the ranks of so many parents who have hurt as they watched a child die?
For those who might be reading this and getting angry that I haven't taken my obviously sick son to the doctor, I did. We had a family friend (Dr) look at a bite area on his hip. Let me mention that our son reacts badly to bites. Mosquito bites become baseball-size lumps. This bite, similarly, was big and ugly. So we didn't know if we should be worried about it. Eventually it was 8 inches in diameter. When our friend saw the bite, she recommended that we take him to Children's Hospital Urgent Care. After arriving, they examined the area, took a blood test, and prescribed antibiotics. What we found out was that while I had been speaking in PA the 2 weeks prior, our son had been bitten by a deer tick and been infected with Lyme's Disease. Thankfully, we caught it early enough that the antibiotics have been effective and hopefully, he will be Lyme's free in a few weeks or months. But back to that Saturday...
As I thought and prayed, I wondered, "If this son of mine dies, will it make me want to go to heaven more than I do now?" For some that may be an easy question. "Of course! He's your son!" But for me it wasn't. I want to treasure Jesus more than anything in the world. More than anything. More than stuff and more than any of my sons. More than all of my sons. I want my desire for heaven to be a desire for Jesus; not gold streets, or loved ones, or sinlessness, or anything but Jesus. Don't get me wrong, I think those things will be wonderful. Wonderful! And I do look forward to them. But I want my desire for heaven, for Jesus, to be so great that it cannot be increased by any other thing that is there. Those things will be great, but they will not compare to Jesus.
Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) Christ is my life, Christ is my death. And so, for me, what will be heaven?
My desire is that I might be able to answer John Piper's question above with a resounding and sincere, "No! I must have Christ for it to be heaven." And with Christ, it will be heaven, no matter who or what else is there.
I thank God that my son is doing better. I cannot imagine the hurt that losing him would have brought. And I thank God for the journey that caused me to evaluate my love for Jesus, again.
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26