(The following is a transcript of a sermon by Randy Alcorn)
Read Revelation 20:11-21:13; 22:1-7, 11-17.
Two and a half years ago, it was the eleventh anniversary of the day my mother went home to be with Christ. I was headed to the airport, to go to Philadelphia, and I dropped by to see Jerry, my best friend from childhood. He was dying of cancer.
I came to Jerry’s house, and while my wife sat with his wife upstairs, I went downstairs to be alone with Jerry. I did what I had many times with my mother in the final days of her life on earth. I read to him from these last chapters of the Bible.
When I read to Jerry about God wiping away the tears from every eye, I looked up at him lying there on that sick bed, and I saw tears flowing from one eye. I had the privilege of wiping away those tears.
And when I got to the last verse I just read to you, verse 17, something amazing happened. When I started the verse Jerry was there in the room next to me. By the time I read the last words he had left. His spirit was no longer in the temple of his body. Ichabod—the glory had departed.
As I sat and stared at his abandoned body, Jerry was experiencing the ultimate adventure—stepping into a new world, the world for which he was made. A world of light that once experienced will cause us to see this world as having been the Shadowlands.
Some of you may recognize that story, because I incorporated it into my novel Deadline, related to the character I called Finney. I’ve had the privilege of reading hundreds of letters from people who have written to say that after reading Deadline they now anticipate heaven with a joy they have never before known. It struck a chord. People are tired of this world, its dashed dreams and broken promises, its suffering and injustices. And when you get tired of this world, there’s good reason—it’s because you’ve been made for another world.
Bertrand Russell has been called the greatest mind of the twentieth century. Anticipating his death he said this: “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere; only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.”
Other than Jesus Christ himself, the greatest mind of the first century was the apostle Paul. Anticipating his death this is what he said, in Philippians 1: “I expect that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. … I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”
Two famous men. One did not know God. The other did. When it came to their views of death—and therefore their views of life—that made all the difference.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for ‘sleep’ is used fourteen times in reference to death. It speaks not of unconsciousness or soul sleep—in fact we’re told “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” The story of the rich man and Lazarus shows immediate consciousness at death, both in heaven and hell.
When Scripture speaks of sleep it refers to relocation and when it speaks of rest it refers to a renewal that leaves us refreshed and ready for what lies ahead a new and greater world. Revelation 14:13 tells us, “Blessed are those who die in the Lord, for they shall rest from their labor.”
Now if you are weary the concept of rest may be very inviting to you. But understand that rest is only one aspect of heaven. Another is work for those longing for productivity. Did you see that in Revelation 22:3? “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.”
Revelation tells us eight times that in heaven, we will serve God. Service implies responsibilities, duties, effort, and creativity to do work well. (Work with lasting accomplishment, unhindered by decay and fatigue, enhanced by unlimited resources.)
Heaven’s labor will be refreshing, productive and unthwarted, without futility and frustration. Perhaps it will be like the work Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, before sin brought the curse on the ground, with its thorns.
Turn to 2 Timothy 4:68, the end of Paul’s last letter. (Read)
In 2 Peter, the word “exodus” is used for death. Paul refers to his death with the Greek word analousis, which means to loosen. You can gain understanding of a word by finding out how that word was commonly used in that culture. Here are five of the most common usages—think of in relationship to death:
1. an ox being loosed from its yoke when it was finished pulling a cart.
2. pulling up tent stakes, to prepare for a journey.
3. untying a ship from dock, to let it sail away.
4. unchaining a prisoner, freeing him from confinement and suffering.
5. solving a problem—when a difficult problem was finally resolved it was referred to as having been “loosened.”
On the one hand, the Bible calls Death the Last Enemy. On the other hand, for the one whose faith and actions have prepared him for death, death is a deliverer. What we call “death” is a transition from a dying body in a dying world to a world of light and life. No wonder Paul says “to die is gain.”
You may have a hard time imagining the reality of life after death. When you’ve only been here, here is all you know. Imagine two twins in their mother’s womb, having a discussion about life after the womb. The one says “There’s a whole world out there. There’s grassy meadows and mountains and streams and waterfalls, horses and dogs and cats and whales and giraffes. There’s skyscrapers and cities, and people like us but much bigger playing games like football and baseball and volleyball, and going on beach trips.”
Can you imagine the look his twin brother gives him? He says, “Are you crazy? That’s just wishful thinking. Everybody knows there’s no life beyond the womb.”
I’ve been with missionaries on the Yukon river up in Alaska. Suppose we traveled even further north, to the Eskimos who live in ice and snow, where the most vegetation is some stunted shrubs. Now, imagine telling these people about the tropics: miles of warm ocean and sand, palm trees, coconuts, bananas, oranges. Would they follow you? Of course not. They couldn’t understand, because they lack the necessary reference points.
Reality is not determined by the limits of anyone’s ability to understand. Life outside the womb, life after birth is real even if the child cannot imagine it. The tropics are real, even though the Eskimo cannot imagine them. Heaven is real even if we cannot imagine it.
Thirteen and a half years ago in the middle of the night I received a phone call telling me my mother had died. I returned home about 3:00 in the morning, and decided I should wake up Karina, who was two and a half. Karina and her grandmother were extremely close, and there was a link between their souls that was amazingly deep. I knew it couldn’t wait till the morning.
I will never forget the smile on Karina’s face as she woke up. I looked at her and said, “Karina, do you know where grandma is?” And before I finished she smiled and said “Yes, Daddy, she’s in heaven.”
I was shocked. And I realized two things. First, that in her sleep God had communicated to Karina what had happened. Without a doubt, she woke up knowing, not guessing, but knowing that her grandmother had died.
This was amazing enough, but the second thing that struck me was that Karina accurately understood something that few people do—that she had every reason to be happy for her grandmother. She was not smiling because she didn’t understand. She was smiling precisely because she did understand. Because she literally and actually believed everything we had taught her about heaven from the Bible. Not just in her head but in her heart.
And though she would miss her grandmother greatly, she understood that this was not the end of their relationship, but only an interruption. She knew that her grandmother was in heaven, she knew that one day she would be in heaven, and she knew that God would make all things right. In fact that night she said to us, “Grandma isn’t lying in the hospital bed anymore. Jesus is carrying her in his lap.”
One of the most conspicuous shortfalls of the evangelical church in America today is our loss of a sense of the eternal. Our view of life and death has become skewed. But it is not a new problem. Writing in 1649 Pastor Richard Baxter said this about heaven:
If there be so certain and glorious a rest for the saints, why is there no more industrious seeking after it? One would think, if a man did but once hear of such unspeakable glory to be obtained, and believed what he heard to be true, he should be transported with the vehemency of his desire after it, and should almost forget to eat and drink, and should care for nothing else, and speak of and inquire after nothing else, but how to get this treasure. And yet people who hear of it daily, and profess to believe it as a fundamental article of their faith, do as little mind it, or labour for it, as if they had never heard of any such thing, or did not believe one word they hear.
The Christian should bring God’s perspective to death and to life. We realize that this brief life on earth is the preface, not the book, the preliminaries, not the main event, the tune-up, not the concert.
For Christians, heaven is our home. Paul said, “As long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
In John 14 Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be also.” Do you realize what a great compliment he pays us?! He wants to be with us!
Think about it. The Carpenter from Nazareth has gone to prepare a place for us! When Nanci was carrying our first child, we prepared a place for her before she arrived, fussing over wall paper and crib. The quality of the place limited only by the skills and resourcefulness of the parent. What kind of place will He have prepared for us?!
We do what can be reasonably done medically, we never withhold essential care, we certainly never assist in suicide, but neither do we desperately cling to this life as if it were all there is. Imagine a homeless street dweller offered ownership of a huge estate might cling to his boxes and garbage cans in a back alley—he just doesn’t know better. (C. S. Lewis—a child offered a holiday at the sea content to make mud pies in a slum—”we are far too easily pleased.”)
Jesus says, “Come blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” Tailor made for us, to fulfill our God-given dreams and desires, to be our eternal home.
Home is acceptance, security, rest, refuge, deep personal relationships, great memories. Home is where your treasure is. If heaven is your home, then your mind and heart and treasure will be there.
And I think that answers the question of why heaven means much less to us than the saints of God throughout the ages. We have tried to build our ultimate home on earth. We have become citizens of this world. Our hopes rise and fall with this world, rather than being centered on the next.
The question is, do you think and live as if this world, or the next world, was your home? Is your mind on earth or on heaven?
There’s an old saying, “those who are heavenly minded are of no earthly good.” Yet in Colossians 3:1 Scripture commands us to set our minds on heaven, where Christ is.
C. S. Lewis said “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”
When we are properly heavenly minded we will be of maximum heavenly and earthly good. But when we are earthly minded we will ultimately bring no good to heaven or earth. A. W. Tozer used to say, “We do well to think of the long tomorrow.”
How do we know what heaven is like? Well, in the last number of years there have been lots of testimonies about personal OBEs, “out of body experiences.” Some of these are probably accurate and true, but many are definitely not. For in some cases a non-Christian is met by a being of light who gives him reassurance and welcomes him to paradise. This is directly contrary to Word of God. Especially significant since Scripture specifically says Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (The writer of bestseller Embraced by the Light is a Mormon with some very unbiblical theology.)
Ultimately our only totally dependable authority is Word of God. In writing my novel Deadline I studied out everything Scripture says about heaven, and used that as a fence, inside which I tried to use a sanctified imagination.
We know heaven will be indescribably beautiful and wonderful. When I think of the first glimpse of heaven I think of the first time I went snorkeling. It was absolutely breathtaking. The thousands of fish of every shape and size and color, and just when you think you’ve seen the most beautiful creation here comes another one. It’s endless.
I remember after days of snorkeling walking way out and jumping off the rocks into water that was sixty feet deep. The water was so clear I had the sensation of falling. Could see fish and shells on the bottom as if just a few inches away. For most of my life I had seldom thought about that other world under the water. But I fell in love with that other world, and often find myself thinking about it even now.
I have etched in my memory a certain sound. It’s the sound of a gasp going through a rubber snorkel, heard from under the water. A world so beautiful, so endlessly wonderful, that cannot be exhausted, and which yields new treasures that will spontaneously cause us to gasp in amazement and delight.
What is heaven? Heaven is the place where God is. Home of Christ, angels, and redeemed. Only those who know Christ, whose names written in Lamb’s book of life.
Heaven is located up and out there, outside our own universe. It is solid. Real. Not airy. Not ethereal. Tangible. Like our resurrection bodies--real bodies that can be touched.
Heaven is a city whose builder and maker is God. A city by definition consists of residences. People live together. No isolation.
Large city—show OH # (US map)
Base is 2 1/4 million square miles. A city 1500 miles high—780,000 stories! (If not literal, why exact measurement?!)
City will have walls, gates, streets. Three gates on each side, 12 gates total. Access from all over new earth.
No down payment, closing costs, mortgage payments, property tax, utility bills.
And if you think you’d never like the city, it’s because you’re thinking of earthly cities, with litter and dirt and crime. The heavenly city will have all the freshness and vitality and openness of the country with all the vibrancy and interdependence and relationships of a city. And there will be no racial divisions between people.
Water. No seas to separate people of earth but fresh water—a great river, flowing not stagnant.
Trees. Tree of life, bears twelve fruits, leaves for healing, palm trees (palm branches). Vegetation—garden. Why not? Eden was garden.
Thrones. Clothes. Precious stones and materials. Streets of gold—most costly materials of earth are common in heaven.
Animals—certainly not incompatible with Paradise. Eden was full of them! Revelation talks of several angels riding out on horses. Elijah—chariots and horses of fire come to and from heaven. Elisha—God sent horses and chariots and warriors from heaven.
In the millennial kingdom, which is heaven brought to earth, there are animals, lions and lambs and oxen and others. No doubt birds and fish and all kinds of other animals.
Light. No secondary sources. No generators and power lines, not even the sun. Illumination right from God himself—the lamb is the lamp. There will be no night—could be a variation in brightness; maybe a gentle suffused light.
But what will we do in heaven? Won’t float around and play harps and fold our wings. In fact, we won’t have wings—not even all the angels are said to have wings, and people are never said to. And Saint Peter isn’t manning the gate either.
We will eat food, have banquets. Christ promised we would eat and drink at table with him; plus come from all over to sit at table with Abraham and patriarchs. We will feast at the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Christ’s resurrection body—he ate fish; no need but pleasure?)
There will be an endless supply of water and food. No famine or drought. No food poisoning, no indigestion, no high or low blood sugars, which is good news to an insulin dependent diabetic like me. No insulin injections and blood tests four times a day.
Eating is not just to eat—the table is the center of conversation and fellowship. We will meet and converse with other inhabitants of heaven. God tells us we’ll fellowship with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. We’ll meet David and Ruth and Esther and John the Baptist and Mary and Peter. I look forward to meeting and feasting with Martin Luther and Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael and Charles Spurgeon and A. W. Tozer and C. S. Lewis (and Dave Harvey).
The angels are rational communicative beings—we will no doubt converse with them. The guardian angel concept is biblical. Because they are “ministering spirits” who serve us, we will no doubt get to know those that ministered to us and protected us during our years on earth. The Bible says some we’ve extended hospitality to are angels. Luke 16 speaks of being welcomed into eternal dwelling places by those we’ve ministered to on earth.
We will serve Christ in the kingdom. We are called joint heirs with Christ. We will own property, residences in heaven. We will enjoy those treasures that we have laid up for ourselves in heaven while on earth.
Revelation 22:5 says we will reign with Christ over the earth. Luke 19 tells us those who have been faithful in this live will be placed in authority, some over one city, some five, some ten. 1 Corinthians 6 tells us we will judge or rule over angels.
How else will we serve Christ besides ruling? Well, we will be creative and exercise abilities—all will sing and some will play instruments. (Harp and trumpet mentioned, but no doubt many other instruments too.)
We will no doubt compose, write, paint, carve, build. We will exercise our God-given gifts, and continue to develop and perfect our talents.
We will worship in heaven. See Revelation 5 and 15 and 19. We will join with those of every tribe and nation and tongue in singing praise to the Lamb. We will become lost in our worship, even more than I become lost in snorkeling. Twice in Rev. 5 it says the living creatures and “the elders fell down in worship.” Overcome with emotion.
Revelation 4 tells us of four living creatures, covered with eyes, one that looks like a lion, one an ox, one a man and one an eagle. They each have six wings, and “day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
I love the ocean—the constant reassuring comforting sound of the tide, the waves, forms a backdrop. Always there. In heaven, wherever we travel in the holy city or beyond, perhaps to the far corner of the universe, the backdrop sound will be this—day and night the chant of the four living creatures who never, even for a moment stop speaking the praise of God.
There will be no temple, no church buildings. We will need no props to worship him. Christ will be the focus of all. Worship will be unaffected, without pretense, and without distraction. When I’m in that undersea world I get so absorbed in it I can never believe how long I’ve been out there—it seems like it’s been 30 minutes but it was four hours. I lose myself in the wonder. We will lose ourselves in worship of Christ, and before we turn to the duties at hand we may suddenly realize that we were so caught up in worship that we have spent the last hundred years gazing upon the Lamb.
We will worship Christ in singing. In Revelation 5 we are told of a choir of angels of ten thousand times ten thousand—that’s a hundred million. And then we are told that the whole rest of creation joins these 100 million. The 100 million are merely a little ensemble up front. Can you imagine the power of the song? If hearing the Hallelujah chorus or All Hail the Power of Jesus name moves us on earth, what will this be like?
Heaven will be dynamic, not static. We will learn, progress in knowledge. When 1 Corinthians 13 says we will know in full, it’s in contrast to seeing through a dark glass. We will know accurately. But we will not be all-knowing. Only God is that, and we will never be God. Ephesians 2:6-7: “ . . . in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace…” A continual learning more about God, who can never exhausted.
And while theology will be our main subject, I imagine we will learn of other things as well, perhaps in studying the wonders of a new universe that will declare his glory even better than this one. As a boy, one of my dreams, long before Star Trek, was to explore the universe, to discover and learn about the new and different. Why not? Who has placed in us the thirst for knowledge and understanding and beauty? Our Creator. And because he is a Creator he will go right on creating.
There will be travel, people will go from one place to another (21:24). Gates never shut. Our means of travel may be interesting—we are told we will be like Jesus and that his resurrection body is the prototype of ours. He walked through walls with his resurrection body. Perhaps we will have the option of walking, or traveling at the speed of light, or even the speed of thought.
Will we remember the past, what happened on earth? Well, we know that in the heavenly city there will be memorials to the twelve tribes and to the apostles. Remembrance is something very important to God. We will sing of Christ’s redemption, his space and time history death on our behalf. Christ’s resurrection body bore the nail scars—this itself reminds us of redemption.
Some people take a verse in Isaiah out of context and conclude we won’t remember our earthly lives. Of course, the pain of the past will be gone. But memories of the walk with Christ and the most intimate times with family and friends will surely not be. For what is worth remembering, our memories will be sharper, not duller.
Will we know our loved ones in heaven? Of course. We’ll know even those we didn’t know on earth. Peter James and John recognized Moses and Elijah in the transfiguration. They had died 900 years earlier and nobody had a picture. Christ’s resurrection body resembled him—the disciples had a hard time recognizing him at first, but they thought he was still dead!
While Christ’s kingdom plan is being worked out, the focus of heaven is earth. A great cloud of witnesses, a heavenly audience watches with keen interest our lives. We are in the arena. We are God’s team supposedly carrying out his kingdom purposes on earth. This is like center court at Wimbledon. This is the Olympics, and a universe is watching us.
Scripture tells us the angels rejoice when someone comes to Christ. Isn’t it reasonable to suppose that the saints who have departed this world, including our loved ones, do too? Personally, I think my mother is probably listening to this message right now. I think my mother watched my daughters be baptized.
I don’t tell my daughters “Grandma would be proud of you,” I tell them “Grandma is proud of you.” How condescendingly we speak of those who have died as if they are now in the dark about what’s happening in the universe. On the contrary, they are in the know, it is we who are in the dark. You don’t become ignorant when you go home with Christ, you become enlightened. Heaven’s joy is not based on being uniformed but in having an accurate perspective.
Those of us who long for justice, justice for the racially oppressed, for the politically persecuted, for the unborn children need to remind ourselves not to give up hope, not to become embittered. Heaven will bring great relief to the suffering, the hungry, the hurting. No crying, no pain, no sorrow, no more death. No hospitals, cemeteries. No sin.
There is a fascinating study of the first three and the last three chapters of the Bible. In both we see the tree of life, a river, a bride and a bridegroom. In Genesis paradise is lost, in Revelation paradise regained. In Genesis Satan wins his first victory, in Revelation his final defeat. In Genesis God hides his face from sinful man, in Revelation “we shall see his face.”
In Genesis the curse is pronounced in Revelation it is removed. In Genesis the gates are shut, in Revelation the gates are open. In Genesis death first comes, in Revelation death is finally destroyed. And it is the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, who is given full credit for all this.
“God himself (personal) will wipe away every tear.” No evil. No fear. No abuse, rape, murder, drugs, drunkenness, no bombs or guns. Walk streets at night. No miscommunication or fear of misunderstanding. And total intimacy with Christ. We are told that he will give each of us a new name. A personal name that will mean much to us and to him.
Heaven will be deeply appreciated by the handicapped who will not be handicapped any longer. Think of those who can walk and run and hear. Think of those blind from birth who will see for the first time. The hymn writer Fanny Crosby said, “Do not pity me for my blindness, for the first face I ever see will be the face of my Lord Jesus.”
And think what heaven will mean to the mentally handicapped, who will wake up in heaven to great powers of understanding and learning. Who will be as free in their minds as those who were crippled on earth will be free in their bodies.
There will be marvelous diversity. Our God is a God of diversity and differentness. Look around you. Look at your family. Look at the world. Look through a microscope or telescope. In Revelation 5 & 7 we see people of every tribe and nation and tongue worshipping the Lamb. This is true diversity. Some of what is called diversity today is perversity. But diversity under Lordship is a beautiful thing.
There will be great joy in heaven. “In thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forever more.” Of course, the greatest joy of heaven will be being joined to Christ. If we truly love Christ we long to be with him. As a bride is incomplete without her bridegroom, so are we without him. We long for the wedding, we long to consummate the relationship. Every other concern in life is secondary.
The next greatest joy will be being joined to our departed loved ones. The great reunion. That’s what 1 Thessalonians 4 is saying—we will be together again. The certainty of ultimate Reunion is so sweet that it makes the parting bearable and almost exciting. I don’t like to be away from my family, but the one redeeming feature is the anticipation of reunion. And the longer the separation the more glorious the reunion. Some of you will meet parents you’ve not seen for fifty years, some will meet for the first time your child who died before birth.
No relationships between two believers ever end. They can only be interrupted, but never terminated. My relationship with my mother has not ended. Has your believing husband, your Father, your sister, your child gone before you? You will see them face to face, and worship with them side by side. This is the believer’s certain hope—a hope that can sustain us through life’s darkest hours.
I’m standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She’s an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down to mingle with each other. And then I hear someone at my side saying, “There, she’s gone.”
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she is gone” there are other eyes watching her coming and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!” And that, for the Christian, is dying.
This is not a fairy tale. It is real. It is true.
Scripture says our citizenship is in heaven, not earth. We are ambassadors representing Christ on this earth. We are called aliens, strangers, and pilgrims on earth. We are told this world is not our home, but heaven is our home. We must live on earth in light of heaven. We must learn to live our short todays in light of the long tomorrow.
Imagine an ambassador from the United States who goes to work in another country that is generally hostile to his own. Naturally, he will want to learn about this new place, see the sights, become familiar with the people and culture. But suppose eventually he becomes so assimilated into this foreign country that he begins to regard it as his true home.
His allegiance wavers, and he gradually compromises his position as an American ambassador, becoming increasingly ineffective in representing the best interests of his mother country. His loyalties are transferred, and eventually he defects. In doing so he not only becomes useless to, but actually betrays the cause of his own country.
Hebrews 11 (v. 13-16) describes the great people of faith this way:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
The black slaves in early America understood the pilgrim mentality. Without possessions, without rights, they lived for another world, a better one. This central theme permeated their spirituals. They sang “I am a poor wayfarin’ stranger, a travelin’ far away from home,” and “Soon I will be done with the troubles of the world.”
May God give us the grace to live now with the perspective that will be ours one moment after we die.
In Lewis’ book The Last Battle, in a section called “Farewell to the shadowlands,” the book begins with a near collision of a railroad train, where the children are thrust into Narnia. But when their adventure is ove rthe children are afraid they will be sent back to earth again. And having experienced the joys and wonders of Narnia, and the presence of Aslan, the Lion who is Christ, the thought of returning to earth was unbearable. And Aslan, the great Lion, the Christ, reassures them:
“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are as you used to call it in the Shadowlands dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia have only been the cover and the title page. Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the great Story which no one on earth has read; which goes on for ever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Eternal Rewards (Chart and overhead transparency reproductions)