Those who keep Heaven in view experience joy, even in the midst of trouble.
This was never more evident than with my friend Billie Barrows, especially in the months leading up to her death. Cliff and Billie Barrows joined me in ministry while on their honeymoon in 1945. It was the beginning of a long and joyful friendship. Cliff directed our music, and Billie played the piano in those early days.
After forty-nine years of marriage and service together with our team, Billie Barrows transcended this life into eternity. I cannot help but think of the powerful words widely attributed to John Newton as he lay on his deathbed. Someone asked him, “Are you still with us?” Newton whispered, “I am still in the land of the dying, but soon, I shall be in the land of the living!”
You see, death for the Christian is just the entryway to eternity, where the eternal God welcomes us in. The Bible says, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
Ruth and I visited the Barrows in their home shortly before Billie’s death. They were expecting their children home for a few days of reunion. Billie knew she did not have long on this earth.
I stayed downstairs with Cliff as he fixed lunch, while Ruth went upstairs with Billie, who had been preparing some of the children’s rooms. She was so happy and filled with joy as she anticipated her children’s visit.
How much more does our heavenly Father anticipate His children’s homecoming? Our imaginations simply cannot comprehend the grandeur of this wonderful home, a place of everlasting joy, contentment, and peace.
How can we ever begin to know the rejoicing that will take place when the Lord brings all of us home in immortal bodies? The morning stars will sing together and the angels will shout for glory. Think of having complete fulfillment, knowing that our homecoming brings unspeakable joy to our wonderful Lord! So why do we prefer lingering here? Because we are not only earthbound in body; we are earthbound in our thinking. But when we leave this place, we will never dwell on it again. Our eyes and hearts will be fixed on Christ.
When we stand at the graveside of a loved one, we sorrow. But those united with Christ in death are also united with Him in the joy of resurrection. There was no joy at the tomb of Lazarus. It was a somber and woeful time—until Jesus arrived!
Words cannot describe the shock of seeing a dead man alive again—and the joy of knowing that we, too, shall one day hear the Lord Jesus call our names. Contemplate it for a moment and imagine hearing His voice speak your name. If that does not cause joy to bubble inside of you, it is doubtful anything else will.