|What Am I Living For?
A Meditation on Heaven
By Sr. Ann Shields, S.G.L.
"No one ever talks about heaven," my father lamented to me one day a year before he died. "I never hear a sermon. I never read an article. Nobody talks about the most important thing — what we're all living for. Why is that so?" he questioned in his own loneliness through long days of suffering from kidney failure. We talked about heaven that day and I promised him I would get him material to read that would feed his soul. In the weeks that followed, his questions stayed with me. I looked, read, listened and found his complaint in large part to be true.
How desperately we need to talk about heaven; about God's promises; about the eternal life that has been won for us by Jesus' death on the cross. We are in a major battle today as Christians. This is a battle for the eternal salvation or the eternal loss of many. As the Holy Father has so accurately defined it, we are living in the midst of a culture of death that has as its goal our eternal destruction.
One of the weapons used against us is wielded by the author of lies himself to confuse and deceive us. For example, look at these euphemisms introduced into our language, euphemisms which affect our thinking: death with dignity, mercy killing, deliverance, personal choice, right to die, pro-choice, partial birth abortion. Such labels have as their purpose to obscure or soften the edges of reality. Further, the authors of such labels hope to marginalize true Christians as self-righteous and lacking in sensitivity and compassion when they oppose the procedures these labels represent. With the prevailing wind of society blowing in the direction of personal rights over life, with no absolute truths and no belief in an eternal destiny, the role of the true Christian is an uphill battle.
How easy for any "naturally compassionate" person without a solid Christian foundation to be sucked into believing that he or she is being kind, mature, generous in giving people their rights to die; how easy when there is little or no objective basis for determining the truth. How deep is the deception to think we are compassionate in helping people end their lives when they are suffering or give others the right to kill themselves. When no eternal perspective is being proclaimed and taught, this is the inevitable result.
The culture of death must be fought by the gospel of life. Silence on the sacredness of human life, on eternal life, on heaven, on the promises of God, all those pieces of the vision that God wants us to have to sustain us in this valley of tears, must be proclaimed from the rooftops. Otherwise we participate in a conspiracy of silence and become, perhaps unwittingly, a tool of the devil, who more than anyone wants to rob us of hope and wrap us in a cocoon of lies until we suffocate.
Very recently, I came across an article in a national paper which graphically portrays the fury and seeming despair of the battle. Commenting on the suicide of an 18 year old Eskimo boy, and having reflected on the personal and societal causes of suicide, a teacher reflects:
National statistics show that roughly 11 out of every 100,000 people die at their own hand; for Alaska Native teenagers, the rate is ten times higher. Narrow it down to young males and the numbers become appalling. Among this group suicide is the leading cause of death, a rate roughly 20 times higher than the national average...
For a teacher, nothing is more disheartening than children killing themselves — not just isolated cases but over and over again. You hope to open up the world for them, to instill a sense of wonder and excitement. How could so many young people feel so hopeless? What does that say for their parents, their society? What does it say for me? It is impossible to escape the notion that we've all failed somehow in a perverse and terrible way...what we're seeing isn't a problem with the kids; rather, its a reflection of our own collective dysfunction. Things have indeed gone terribly wrong and our children know it. We're all caught in a vicious cycle and the task of breaking free is daunting at best.... (USA Today, Nick Jans, Wednesday, July 16, 1997, p.15A)
... We are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life; the `culture of death' and the `culture of life'. We find ourselves not only `faced with' but necessarily `in the midst of' this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life (The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II, #28).
Pro-life, unconditionally. How do we fight the battle effectively? We can begin by looking at God's plan when He created us.
The Truth of Who We Are
Recently in a local Catholic newspaper, I read an interesting contrast. Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist, who defies the law and assists people in committing suicide, said this: "You're a human body, you're a biological organism like every other biological organism. You bleed when cut and when you die, you stink. Now, what's sacred about that?" On the other half of the page, I read this quote from Mother Teresa: "We take great care of the dying. I am convinced that even one moment is enough to ransom an entire miserable existence, an existence perhaps believed to be useless. All souls are precious to Jesus, who paid for them with His blood." Look at what Dr. Kevorkian says we are.
Look at what Mother Teresa believes. Who do you believe you are?
Let's look at objective truth — the revealed word of God — the word that comes from Someone who knew you even before you were formed in your mother's womb; the word that comes from a Father who made the greatest sacrifice, His only Son, so that you and I might have the fullness of life forever. Listen to what God's word says about our value, our sacredness. Look at what that word tells us is our inheritance if we put our faith in Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son and repent of our sins.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them....And God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good (Genesis 1:27,31).
Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you (Deuteronomy 32:6).
He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible... (Colossians 1:15-16)
"For everything created by God is good..." (1 Timothy 4:4)
Because God is infinite goodness, because all that is good is in Him in infinite perfection, because He loves us, not because of what we do or don't do, but because He is love — He chose to make us out of love, in His image. When we live by His precepts, we begin to reflect him; we actually can grow in looking more like God... Awesome!
The Father who loves you created you out of nothing for love... Ponder this.
Because the word of God is living and active (See Hebrews 4:12), it has power to change your life. If you doubt the above scriptures, I encourage you to read them daily and ask God to give you faith to believe. I am not talking about an exercise in positive thinking. I am speaking about the power of God's word to change us — to bring us life. Faith is a gift; ask God for the gift. He loves to give it and it will change your life. God never intended that we be confused about who we are, our infinite value, our purpose, our destiny.
Life in Christ
Again, Scripture tells us very clearly that, though we have turned away from God's purpose when He created us, though we have sinned and deserve condemnation, the Father's infinite love for us provides us a way to be restored: He gives us His only begotten Son.
While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man — though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:6-9).
I've been profoundly touched recently in my reading of the heroic lives of men and women in this century who chose to die in place of another. Let me share with you here that "heroic moment" in the life of Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest. He was arrested in February, 1941 and sent to Auschwitz. In July of that same year, a prisoner escaped from the block where Kolbe was imprisoned. The penalty was clear. Ten men, chosen in an arbitrary manner by the commandant from that block, would be sentenced to starve to death.
When Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek was selected, he cried: "How I pity my wife and children whom I'm leaving as orphans." At that moment Maximilian Kolbe broke rank and declared: "I want to die in place of one of the condemned. I am an old man and good for nothing. My life is no longer of use to anyone." (Kolbe was only in his mid forties, but both illness and the concentration camp had ravaged his body.)
"In whose place do you wish to die?" asked the commandant.
"For the one with wife and children," he replied.
"Who are you?" the Nazi asked.
"I am a Catholic priest."
That was all the commandant needed to hear since priests were on the second lowest rung in the camp. Only the Jews were lower. Kolbe was "allowed" to take another man's place and die in a starvation bunker. (See No Greater Love by Boniface Hanley, OFM, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, pp. 13-15.)
Just a few days before his arrest, Kolbe had said that "the greatest grace of God and the greatest happiness of man is the ability to attest to one's ideal with one's blood."
You can imagine how awed Sargeant Francis Gajowniczek was that a man would be willing to die such a horrible death in his place. Brothers and sisters, Someone did do that for you. The God of heaven and earth did that for you in Christ. He took your place. Christ declared that He wanted to die in the place of each of us — for each one of us.
Ponder how much you are loved that God would go to such lengths to save you and to give you heaven.
And look at this passage from Paul's letter to Titus:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing and regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. The saying is sure (Titus 3:3-9).
When St. Augustine experienced the truth of this word, he was filled with such love and gratitude, these words poured forth from his mouth, out of a heart overflowing with the Holy Spirit:
O eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not ready to see them. Meanwhile you overcame the weakness of my vision, sending forth most strongly the beams of your light, and I trembled at once with love and dread. I learned that I was in a region unlike yours and far distant from you, and I thought I heard your voice from on high: "I am the food of grown men; grow then and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me."
I sought a way to gain the strength which I needed to enjoy you. But I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who is above all, God blessed forever. He was calling me and saying: "I am the way of truth, I am the life." He was offering the food which I lacked the strength to take, the food he had mingled with our flesh. For the Word became flesh, that your wisdom, by which you created all things, might provide milk for us children.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace (Confessions of St Augustine from The Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, pp. 1356-1357).
Look at the power of God's love to change Augustine's life once he embraced "the mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." Look at how personal God's love is and how intimate is God's presence for those who put their faith in Him. That same intimacy is there for us. It is there for that Eskimo boy who never knew the truth; it is there for Dr. Kevorkian, for Mother Teresa, for you.
God our Father did not just create us out of love. When we rejected Him through the sin of our first parents, when we lived our personal lives foolishly and as slaves to various passions and pleasures as Paul so eloquently describes above in his letter to Titus and as Augustine so personally illustrated, God our Father sent his only beloved Son to restore us to friendship with God and make us again heirs of eternal life. What marvelous love! What merciful forgiveness! What hope it should give us no matter the gravity, the frequency or the years of serious sin. When we turn to Him in our hearts and repent, His forgiveness and restoration are freely bestowed; His love is personally given. We are of inestimable worth to God, no matter how we have fallen.
I have had my eyes widely opened to the truth of who we are, our value in the eyes of God as I prayerfully read His word. But it was only when I began to study the Sacrament of Baptism this year as the Holy Father has encouraged us that my eyes were really opened to understand, not only with my head but with my heart, how God sees our individual lives — our personal, daily living out of this precious gift of life with all the intimate circumstances that make each of us so unique.
When you and I were baptized, we were brought into the dynamic love between the Father and the Son. When we were baptized, eternal death was destroyed in us and we came from darkness into life and received by the power of the Holy Spirit new life as a son or daughter of God.
When Jesus came into our world, His whole life was devoted to making the Father known and loved; His one desire was to return to the Father bringing us with Him! When we were baptized, not only were we no longer orphans but we were received into the fullness of life! We were brought into union with Jesus' love for the Father, His hunger and thirst for the Father, His reception of the Father's love for Him. We were brought into that never-ending receiving and giving of love by the power of the Holy Spirit. Look at John 17:23, 26. It is very clear from Scripture that the love which the Father has for Jesus His Son is the love He has for us. We are a son or daughter of God just as Jesus and loved by the Father as fully as He loves His Son, Jesus! Think about that! Think about being loved like that. We are. But Satan, through the culture of death, tries to deceive us, telling us we're nothing — just a bunch of cells that will die with no future after 70 or 80 years. Or our own weakness and sin try to condemn us in this way: "Yes, I can see what Scripture says. But it is not for me. I've done too much that is wrong." Brothers and sisters, receive in faith what God has done for you in love through His Son. Receive the forgiveness of God. Embrace your inheritance. Don't let your own sin or the Jack Kevorkians of this world rob you of the truth, the life that you can begin to enjoy even now.
Eternal Life — God's Preparation
Recognizing the incomparable dignity of our lives, yes, the sacredness of each life, let us look together at our eternal destiny. Let us look at what God is making ready for us, what He is preparing for those who love Him.
Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-4).
God's preparation is very personal. I go to prepare a place for you. There are many rooms. Take a few moments. Reflect on that passage. Look at the infinite care. When God prepares something it will be perfectly done — for you. God's provision is very personal insofar as He tells us that after He prepares a place, He will personally come and take us there. When you and I die, Jesus will be there to receive us. He wants us to be with Him, to live with Him, to share life with Him. In heaven, we will never be lonely or isolated.
Eternal Life — Resurrection of the Body
I wrote at the beginning of this little booklet that my father complained to me some years ago that no one talked about heaven. As I see, it there are a couple of reasons for that phenomenon. First, it seems to me that no one wants to be definitive about anything these days. No one wants to take a stand even though Scripture and the long tradition of Church teaching on this issue is very clear. Society's "all things are relative" approach has definitely affected theologians, preachers and teachers of the Gospel. Many are afraid to declare anything absolutely for fear of being marginalized in their careers. Pride affects all of us but those most responsible for preaching and teaching are attacked in a particular way. As a result, many are unable to bring solid food to an often frightened and discouraged people. What a truncated Gospel remains! In the face of external confusion and internal pride, those called to preach are often silent on what matters most.
This difficulty is very serious. In an interview in The Rock in September 1996, Scott Hahn commented: "In American Catholic scholarly circles, if you choose to say things that are politically incorrect, your career is ruined. You're blacklisted, you're not promoted and you'll actually find it much harder to publish." Karl Keating echoed the same concerns when he said in the same interview: "Scholars are marginalized. Their books don't get reviewed, they don't get promoted and the centers of scholarship invite on to their staffs only those people who already agree with majority opinion."
A second reason is that believing in heaven means preaching and teaching on what Scripture clearly explains is necessary to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Again, some priests, some theologians and other teachers of religion are afraid to teach the absolutes of morality. Again, no one wants to be criticized as "fundamentalist," "simplistic" or "not up to date theologically." The effect of all this is a conspiracy of silence on the very topic our Lord intended to help us endure, to persevere, to be nourished in hope, to be sustained in such a way that we could help others put their hope in a God of love.
What does our faith clearly teach us about our resurrection? Christ suffered and died for our sins. After suffering a horrible death and the seeming loss of all hope which the Apostles and first disciples experienced, He rose gloriously triumphant on Easter morning. Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians that what happened to Christ is a sure and firm promise of what is to be ours. Christ rose that we might know he triumphed over death. Those who put their faith in Him will experience the same victory because our lives are one with Christ through faith, through baptism.
Again, look at the Scripture:
Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:12-20).
Our faith in eternal life is literally "stupid" if we don't believe in Christ's resurrection. But, in fact, Christ did rise from the dead. Our belief in our own resurrection is based on Christ. He has triumphed over death and won for us an eternal inheritance with Him. Paul continues:
But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for me, another for animals, another for birds and another for fish. There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory for the sun and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:35-44).
Not only has Christ conquered death by His triumph over the grave but just as He was raised with a glorified body, so shall it be for us. Our human body is like a seed, buried in the ground when we die. When a seed sprouts and begins to bear fruit, there is no resemblance to the seed; we cannot even find the seed. So shall it be with our glorified bodies. We shall be raised with a perfect body, a body no longer subject to corruption of any kind. Scripture is clear. Trust God's Word. God does not lie. Trust the teaching of the Church.
The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God — it is not "produced" by the parents and also that it is immortal; it does not perish when it separates from the body at death and it will be reunited with the body at the final resurrection (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #366).
Eternal Life — Union with God
God is the perfection of all that is good. Everything you seek and long for — freedom from all fear, from sin and temptation and weaknesses that humiliate you and war against you constantly, from all the secret struggles and failures, from hopes dashed and dreams shattered, from all that saps your energy and joy and hope — will be yours in Christ. The fullness, the wholeness of love and joy, the never ending peace that surpasses understanding, will be yours in Christ, in union with Him. We will become one with love Himself — if only we persevere now in faith, repent of our sin, and keep our eyes fixed on Him. Ralph Martin often says, "Keep on keeping on."
Scripture tells us clearly that, in that great day of triumph over death, "When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be everything to everyone" (1 Corinthians 15:21-28). Everything that is good — without end — is promised to every person who lives by faith in God, who answers the call of the Gospel as it has been preached to him: life without end, all that is good, forever. Reflect on this.
Because God will be fully present to us in all His divine attributes, we will spend eternity in endless delight as we receive "wave after wave" of all that our bodies and souls hunger and thirst for. We won't have to wait for others; we won't be left with the dregs of whatever we need; we won't have to come back tomorrow. All that we hope for, all that we desire is ours in the NOW of eternity as we are able to receive it. Because God is infinite we have an eternity to keep receiving more and more and more and more of all that is good. The springs will never dry up. There are no droughts or famine or days off from God sharing His life with us. No monotony. Think of it — an endless supply of beauty, truth, goodness, glory, wonder, awe, magnificence and triumph in the person of Jesus Christ, fully available to each of us forever! Words fail to convey the constantly increasing capacity for each one of us in heaven to receive the totality of God's gift of Himself to us.
So often in this life, the mire of sin and toil and pain that shares our days with limited peace and joy and goodness makes it seem almost impossible to imagine a life where there is the fullness of joy, all the time, every day, forever. It's hard to grasp but try to imagine it and God will give you faith to plant it deep in your heart. God wants that vision to impart strength and hope to you now.
But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him," God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:7-13).
The Holy Spirit given us in Baptism will impart to you the truth of Scripture. Ask Him. The word of God is living and active. It can grow in your soul and give you strength to begin to see and hear and conceive in your mind what God has prepared for those who love Him.
Eternal Life — Heaven Itself
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more for the former things have passed away."
And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage and I will be his God and he shall be my son (daughter)" (Revelation 21:1-7).
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it and its gates shall never be shut by day — and there shall be no night there; they shall bring into it the honor and the glory of the nations. But nothing unclean shall enter it nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There shall no more be anything accursed but the throne of God and of the lamb shall be in it and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more, they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light and they shall reign for ever and ever. And He said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true" (Revelation 21:22-22:6).
The writer, St. John, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wants to convey to us how real heaven is. As we often hear, words suffer in translation. Looking at words in their original language sometimes gives us a different meaning, a fuller meaning, or a particular nuance that gives us greater understanding. Look at some of these words with me that convey eternal truths!
Scripture speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. The word "new" in Greek means something very different and much more than when we speak of a new house or a new job. The word is defined as unaccustomed or unused; new as to form or quality; of a different nature that what is contrasted with the "old." What is new then is completely different than what we have experienced. We cannot use our ideas of what constitutes happiness or fulfillment to describe heaven. Heaven will be of a very different nature than anything we imagine. Our human concepts fall far short of grasping the fullness of eternity. But we can ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and hearts to eternal realities because "what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, God has revealed to us through the Spirit."
When Scripture tells us that God will wipe away every tear, the word for "wipe" in Greek means to obliterate. No more tears ever. No need for tears ever. Think about it.
No more mourning or sorrow or pain in Greek refers to a) the grief over the death of loved ones, b) our own death, c) all the things that lead to death, d) the sorrow that comes from recognizing our own sin. There will be no grieving in an absolute sense. None. No need ever for any. Meditate on that!
No falsehood—that is, no lies of any kind. No suspicions, no doubt, no mistrust, no slander, calumny; nothing but the fullness of Truth. God is truth. It is his very nature. He cannot contradict Himself. When we are in heaven, we will be in the fullness of God's presence, participating in the fullness of His life. No falsehood of any kind can exist in the presence of the one who is the Truth!
Night shall be no more. No darkness ever internally or externally; no evil will exist again because it cannot; nothing that does not fully reflect the fullness of Light, Goodness, Truth and Beauty! Don't you long for that?
"Healing:" The river of the water of life will bring the fullness of health. It will not be possible to dread any future sickness ever in body or soul, mind or spirit. No weakness, no lack in body or soul, mind or spirit. The fullness of health for all eternity! What a gift.
The Lord says through St. John that He will give this life to all who remain faithful to Him. (Understand that faithfulness includes those who have sinned and rejected God but have repented, have asked for forgiveness and have returned to the Lord. When God forgives, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our sins are wiped away. It is as though they never were. See Isaiah 43:25 and 44:22.)
Twice the author of Revelation tells us that "these words are trustworthy and true." God cannot lie. There is no admixture in Him. He is the fullness of truth. When He tells us that what He says can be absolutely relied upon, we can be sure it is so and stake our lives upon it.
Can you begin to imagine that kind of life? Once I got together with a group of friends for breakfast. After we ordered, someone said something about heaven. Another said she couldn't imagine it. Another said she'd like to learn more. And that got us going. From a simple one hour breakfast, we emerged from that restaurant with vision, hope and laughter. The day was different. My desire to follow God more strongly had been fanned into a flame. My eyes were taken from life's challenges and were lifted to the face of the One who loved me, was with me and preparing a home for me.
May this little booklet do so for you.
"Behold, I am coming soon bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates... The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let him who hears say, "Come." And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price... "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22: 12,14,17,20)
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Copyright © 1997 by Ann Shields
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Scripture texts used in this work are taken from Revised Standard Version, copyright © 1946, 1952 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.