Imagine someone takes you to a party. You see a few friends there, enjoy a couple of good conversations, a little laughter, and some decent appetizers. The party’s all right, but you keep hoping it will get better. Give it another hour, and maybe it will. Suddenly, your friend says, “I need to take you home.”
You’re disappointed—nobody wants to leave a party early—but you leave, and your friend drops you off at your house. As you approach the door, you’re feeling all alone and sorry for yourself. As you open the door and reach for the light switch, you sense someone’s there. Your heart’s in your throat. You flip on the light.
“Surprise!” Your house is full of smiling people, familiar faces.
It’s a party—for you. You smell your favorites—barbecued ribs and pecan pie right out of the oven. The tables are full. It’s a feast. You recognize the guests, people you haven’t seen for a long time. Then, one by one, the people you most enjoyed at the other party show up at your house, grinning. This turns out to be the real party. You realize that if you’d stayed longer at the other party, as you’d wanted, you wouldn’t be at the real party—you’d be away from it.
Christians faced with terminal illness or imminent death often feel they’re leaving the party before it’s over. They have to go home early. They’re disappointed, thinking of all they’ll miss when they leave. But the truth is, the real party is underway at home—precisely where they’re going. They’re not the ones missing the party; those of us left behind are. (Fortunately, if we know Jesus, we’ll get there eventually.)
One by one, occasionally a few of us at a time, we’ll disappear from this world. Those we leave behind will grieve that their loved ones have left home. In reality, however, their believing loved ones aren’t leaving home, they’re going home. They’ll be home before us. We’ll be arriving at the party a little later.
Remember, Jesus said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:21). He said, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Laughter and rejoicing—a party awaits us. Don’t you want to join it? Yet even that party, in the present Heaven, is a preliminary celebration. It’s like the welcome at the airport for a woman who’s come home for her wedding. Sure, she’s home now, and it’s wonderful, but what she’s really looking forward to is the wedding, and the wedding feast, which will be followed by moving into her new home with her beloved bridegroom.
To be in resurrected bodies on a resurrected Earth in resurrected friendships, enjoying a resurrected culture with the resurrected Jesus—now that will be the ultimate party! Everybody will be who God made them to be—and none of us will ever suffer or die again. As a Christian, the day I die will be the best day I’ve ever lived. But it won’t be the best day I ever will live. Resurrection day will be far better. And the first day on the New Earth—that will be one big step for mankind, one giant leap for God’s glory.