“To die will be an awfully big adventure,” says Peter Pan. But it will be a wonderful, big adventure only for those who are covered by the blood of Christ. Those who die without Jesus will experience a horrifying tragedy.
Of course, dying is not the real adventure. Death is merely the doorway to eternal life. The adventure is what comes after death—being in the presence of Christ. Just before he was hanged by the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer prayed aloud, “Oh, God, this is the end; but for me it is just the beginning.” His trust in God’s promises served him well in the face of death.
We shouldn’t glorify or romanticize death—Jesus didn’t. He wept over it (John 11:35). For every beautiful story of people peacefully slipping into eternity, there are other stories of confused and shrunken people, wasting away mentally and physically, leaving behind exhausted, confused, and grief-stricken loved ones. I’ve often seen death close-up. Unless Christ returns in our lifetime, it’s certain that my own death—and that of everyone I love—awaits.
Death is painful, and it’s an enemy. But for those who know Jesus, death is the final pain and the last enemy. “For [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).
Death’s destruction was foretold in ancient prophecy: “[God] will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:7-8).
The apostle Paul echoes Isaiah, saying, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).
Do you crave God’s perspective on the death that awaits you? Reread the previous three paragraphs. Read them aloud. Memorize them. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that death can do to me?” Consider Romans 8:35, 38-39: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Not only will death not separate us from Christ—it will actually usher us into His presence. Then, at the final resurrection, Christ will demonstrate His omnipotence by turning death on its head, making forever alive what appeared forever buried.
If you believe this, you won’t cling desperately to this life. You’ll stretch out your arms in anticipation of the greater life to come.
If my descendants, perhaps my grandchildren or great-grandchildren, should read these words after I’ve died, know this: Nanci and I are looking forward to greeting you when you arrive in the intermediate Heaven (unless Christ returns in the meantime and we meet at the resurrection). We’ll have some favorite places picked out for you, and we’ll go there together. But we won’t stay there long. Ultimately we’ll travel together to our true home, the New Earth. We’ll settle and explore it side by side, as pioneers.
What a world it will be. I’m overwhelmed just thinking of it. What a great God we’ll enjoy and serve forever. What a great time we’ll have together there. I look forward to seeing every reader who knows Jesus, meeting most of you for the first time, and being reunited with those I’ve known here on the present Earth. I can’t wait for the great adventures we’ll have with Christ and each other.
Don’t let a day go by without anticipating the new world that Christ is preparing for us. God loves the Heaven bound, but He is proud of the Heaven minded: “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” (Hebrews 11:16, emphasis added).Excerpted from Heaven. You can also browse our resources on Heaven and additional books.