The Heavenly Party

Heavenly Party

“I can’t believe he stood me up,” I muttered to myself.  After all these years of weekly coffee why would my friend not show up for our regular Thursday afternoon coffee?  Dale and I were kindred spirits.  Once a week we would commune to drink warm coffee, share our dreams, speak of the challenges we face and tell of what God was showing us.  I called him, maybe 10 times over the course of an hour.  As my coffee grew cold and the coldness of the outdoor metal chair began to make certain parts of my body numb, I grew concerned.

Finally he called, “Craig,” he spoke in almost a whisper like fashion.  “I’m in the hospital.  Sorry I missed our time together.  The doctors tell me that I have cancer.  They also told me that I don’t have long to live.”  Although I knew that stunned silence wouldn’t be the best way to support my friend, my emotions had locked my jaw and the only sound that escaped my sealed my lips was a pathetic sound, “Huuummmm.”  I still don’t know why the topic of death is so startling to our senses.  If death is a natural part of living in this broken world, if it happens to everyone, why is it a surprise?

Dale’s shortened life was matched by an even shorter departure.  Like a warrior, he battled against this disease for three months until he lost his fight.  As his body began to shut down and he was confined to his bed, people would offer to bring him lunch or dinner.  To all offers, he would tell them the same thing, “Sure. You can bring me cheeseburger, fries, and a small chocolate shake.” I sat on a vinyl chair talking to Dale when the smell of cheeseburger and fries wafted into the room.  He graciously thanked his visitors for the food.  As they got ready to leave, they approached his bed with trepidation, patted him on the hand, and said a solemn, head cocked good-bye.

After they left the room, he shared in a hushed voice about strange phenomenon he had observed, “I’ve never received a small chocolate shake.  For some reason, people always bring me a large.  I guess they figure, ‘He’s dying, why not go out with a large shake instead of a small one?’”

Sometimes we try to deal with death by “biggie-sizing” the end of our lives.  Maybe a large chocolate shake is our way of denying death’s inevitable arrival or at least a last attempt to fight it off.

Dale’s death brought a sting into my soul that I had never felt before.  The counterbalance to this great loss was the incredible blessing of seeing him die well.  It is common to see people living well.  But, when death comes knocking, it is uncommon to see someone look death in the face, not wince, and full of peace in their heart and joy on their face boldly declare, “I’m ready to go Home.”

His memorial service was a great snapshot of his life–short, simple and spectacular.  Standing on the dew dripped grass next to the fresh dirt of a newly dug gravesite, we watched four of his pilot friends fly across the cloudless sky in their small airplanes.  Suddenly, one plane peeled out of formation to burst high into the bright blue sky in the “Missing Man Formation.”  I cried.  The tears on my face were a small percentage of the tears in my heart.  When Dale died, I think a little piece of my heart went with him.

Wearily, I returned home that night to my energetic kids.  They could tell that I wasn’t my normal happy and playful self.  One of my daughters asked, “What’s wrong daddy?  Is everything ok?”

“Sweetheart, today I had to say my last goodbye to a good friend.”  I decided this would be a good time to them about Dale.  “My good friend Dale died and we had his funeral services today.  Dale’s is now in Heaven with Jesus.”

After a long pause, my sweet little 4-year-old Alexa asked, “Daddy, is Heaven going to be like a big party?”

“Yes it is sweetie.”  Tears began to well up in my eyes.  I tried to rally some excitement and with a forced smile I continued, “Yes, it’s going to be a huge party!  There will probably be more balloons up there than you can possibly imagine.”

Alexa paused, looked up into the sky and said, “That’s right!  Lots of people have lost their balloons up there!”

I can learn from my four-year old daughter’s excited and eager expectation for Heaven. When I reflect on the amazing nature of the next world, of unhindered access to and enjoyment of God it helps me to fight against the message I’ve heard and have been tempted to believe for most of my life that this is all there is.  When I consider the party in Heaven, I live lighter and with greater purpose in this world.  God, thank you for sending me a tiny messenger as a reminder that you love me enough to create a wonderful world for me, in this life and the next – and thanks for the balloons!

The promised Heavenly Party

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”   I Peter 1:3-5

Questions

Q:  What is your picture of heaven like?

Q:  Are you looking forward to Heaven?  Is your expectation of Heaven enough to motivate you to move towards it with energy?

Q:  If Heaven has already begun for those who have a genuine relationship with God, how is it going for you so far?


45 comments
Ron Harris
Ron Harris

Inclusiveness, tolerance, unconditional acceptence. being reunited with our loved ones. Having purpose & being productive. Physically more beautiful than we can imagine or describe here on earth....

Ron Harris
Ron Harris

Inclusiveness, tolerance, unconditional acceptence. being reunited with our loved ones. Having purpose & being productive. Physically more beautiful than we can imagine or describe here on earth....

Snuffer Alexander
Snuffer Alexander

it's the actual virtual repensetation of heaven as it's described in the bible. Acutally no one can really get it right but it's close

Snuffer Alexander
Snuffer Alexander

it's the actual virtual repensetation of heaven as it's described in the bible. Acutally no one can really get it right but it's close

Pam Smith
Pam Smith

SURE WONT LOOK LIKE DOWN HERE. THANK YOU JESUS

Snuffer Alexander
Snuffer Alexander

There's a clear explanation in the bible. You can YouTube what heaven looks like!

Dee Dodson
Dee Dodson

Heaven on earth where we will praise our Lord.

Vickie Rodz
Vickie Rodz

I would image being with our HEAVENLY FATHER in heaven, spending our eternity with HIM!!!!!!!!!!! AMEN.

Nova Rigsby Forrest
Nova Rigsby Forrest

As my mama was dying, my sissy asked her in the final seconds of her life, "is heaven as beautiful as they say it is?" God gave my sissy a vision of a younger version of our mama and she turns her head and looks at us and says "OH YES!!"

Darlene Jackson
Darlene Jackson

Heaven is like going home to me everything will be alright for my mother,my children and my self we don't quite fit in down here and thats a good thing. I saw my son cry today it hurt my heart jesus please don't leave us you're all we got we need you so bad......................

Mary Lane
Mary Lane

heaven is a beautiful place and no more worries there

Keith Williams
Keith Williams

Peace and love and heavenly sound and Light with Father God and Lord Jesus

Kela Cammack
Kela Cammack

Beautiful sunny days and like Liz says no grief or pain.

Betty Kellam
Betty Kellam

When we see Jesus, what a wonderful day that will be. Steve and Adeline take care and you too will see your loved ones---jeanne

Mary Anne Bobik
Mary Anne Bobik

Well as I have told my relatives when they have passed, put in a good word for me. I hope 2 see U later. :)

Beloved Richards
Beloved Richards

heaven is for God, jesus & a few selected one who will choose to serve him otherwise this the only place for us, go on and read the bible.

Adeline Morales
Adeline Morales

@Steve Loopstra.....i know exactly how u feel an i do the same thing as im reading an studying my word an while im at service. I lost my husband last month in April to hep c chirrosis of the liver n renal failure an sepsis infection. We went to ER on a friday an he didnt make it even a wk. He was hoping to get his liver transplant but he ended up getting the sepsis infection from one of his fluid drainings. Now hes in the presence of the Lord....but my heart aches for him so much but im glad i hve the Lord in my life or i dnt know how i wld make it....i imagine heaven alot. An i also know the song ur talking abt its awesome. My heart goes out to u an u will b in my prayer....i know wat ur going thru i share ur pain. God bless u.

Phyllis Lay
Phyllis Lay

I am dreaming of my heavenly home, home with Jesus, in the comfort of his presence.

Brian Craven
Brian Craven

Rest and never being able to remember the awful things the devil was responsible for in this world.

Sheri Beaty
Sheri Beaty

Perfect peace and joy like we've never felt before.

Eva Wilson
Eva Wilson

paradise,no worrys,no sickness,no crimes,just peace. amen

Steve Loopstra
Steve Loopstra

I lost my wife to cancer after only 37 days from her first ultrasound. After she died, I would be in worship service and imagine how her face would be shining now as she worshiped the Lord that she loved, and wanted so much to see face to face. There's an old song that goes, "Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace. I want to see my Savior's face, heaven is a wonderful place." I have now an even greater anticipation!!

James L. Combs
James L. Combs

I believe Heaven is bright lit and streets of gold and has rows after rows of mansions and gardens, and water falls and fountains. And our God on His throne with precious Jesus at his right hand side.

JulieAnn Scarborough-Hamilton
JulieAnn Scarborough-Hamilton

To me, Heaven is busy, busy, busy. And NEVER the slightest bit boring. Then comes the WHOLE UNIVERSE as God's Family! Yes, Heaven is where we start; Eternity is ALL OF CREATION doing the Will of God beyond what we have already been told. Praise God! Me :D

Debra Clark
Debra Clark

My vision of heaven is pure light which is Jesus, a sense of utter peace, tranquility and nothing but beauty to look at, such as the tree of life, the river of life, and golden streets, walls made of priceless jewels, etcf. i don't want to miss the train.

Kathy Patrick
Kathy Patrick

I've seen death but my vision of Heaven is a more quiet - peaceful place, like walking in Paradise

Steve loopstra
Steve loopstra

I lost my wife to cancer after only 37 days from her first ultrasound. After she died, I would be in worship service and imagine how her face would be shining now as she worshiped the Lord that she loved, and wanted so much to see face to face. There's an old song that goes, "Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace. I want to see my Savior's face, heaven is a wonderful place." I have now an even greater anticipation!!

Steve loopstra
Steve loopstra

Actually, as I read somewhere right after my wife went to heaven...."I didn't 'lose' my wife, I know exactly where she is..."

Craig Morris
Craig Morris

Steve, I can't begin to imagine the pain of losing a spouse.  I'm so sorry for your loss.  I think you have an amazing perspective!!   Gerald Sittser wrote a book called, A Grace Disguised–How the Soul Grows Through Loss.  This book has ministered mightily to me, and in the right season of life, it will minister to you as well. I pray that the Father of Compassion and the God of all Comfort (II Corinthians 1:3) will continue to minister powerfully to you.