Imagine someone takes you to a party. You see a few friends there, enjoy a couple of good conversations, a little laughter, and some decent appetizers. The party’s all right, but you keep hoping it will get better. Give it another hour, and maybe it will. Suddenly, your friend says, “I need to take you home.”
You’re disappointed—nobody wants to leave a party early—but you leave, and your friend drops you off at your house. As you approach the door, you’re feeling all alone and sorry for yourself. As you open the door and reach for the light switch, you sense someone’s there. Your heart’s in your throat. You flip on the light.
“Surprise!” Your house is full of smiling people, familiar faces.
It’s a party—for you. You smell your favorites—barbecued ribs and pecan pie right out of the oven. The tables are full. It’s a feast. You recognize the guests, people you haven’t seen for a long time. Then, one by one, the people you most enjoyed at the other party show up at your house, grinning. This turns out to be the real party. You realize that if you’d stayed longer at the other party, as you’d wanted, you wouldn’t be at the real party—you’d be away from it.
Christians faced with terminal illness or imminent death often feel they’re leaving the party before it’s over. They have to go home early. They’re disappointed, thinking of all they’ll miss when they leave. But the truth is, the real party is underway at home—precisely where they’re going. They’re not the ones missing the party; those of us left behind are. (Fortunately, if we know Jesus, we’ll get there eventually.)
One by one, occasionally a few of us at a time, we’ll disappear from this world. Those we leave behind will grieve that their loved ones have left home. In reality, however, their believing loved ones aren’t leaving home, they’re going home. They’ll be home before us. We’ll be arriving at the party a little later. (I should mention that the fact that Heaven will be wonderful shouldn’t tempt us to take shortcuts to get there. As long as God keeps you here on Earth, it’s exactly where He wants you. If you are considering taking your own life, recognize this as the devil’s temptation. In John 8:44, Jesus said that Satan is a liar and a murderer. He tells lies because he wants to destroy you. Don’t listen to the liar. Listen to Jesus, the truth teller. Don’t make a terrible ending to your life’s story—finish your God-given course on Earth. When He’s done—not before—He’ll take you home in His own time and way.)
Remember, Jesus said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:21). He said, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Laughter and rejoicing—a party awaits us. Don’t you want to join it? Yet even that party, in the present Heaven, is a preliminary celebration. It’s like the welcome at the airport for a woman who’s come home for her wedding. Sure, she’s home now, and it’s wonderful, but what she’s really looking forward to is the wedding, and the wedding feast, which will be followed by moving into her new home with her beloved bridegroom.
In Heaven: Your Real Home, Joni Eareckson Tada writes:
Without question, the most marvelous thing of all about heaven— heaven’s supreme delight—will be unbroken fellowship with God Himself.
The closer we draw to the Lord Jesus and the more we set our hearts and minds on heavenly glories above, the better prepared we shall be for heaven’s perfection. Fellowship won’t mean sitting at the feet of Jesus and fighting back boredom while everyone else is enraptured. No. Fellowship will be the best of what earthly friendship merely hinted at.
. . . Heaven’s Wedding Supper of the Lamb will be the perfect party. The Father has been sending out invitations and people have been RSVP-ing through the ages. Jesus has gone ahead to hang the streamers, prepare the feast, and make our mansion ready. And like any party, what will make it sweet is the fellowship.
Fellowship with our glorious Savior and with our friends and family.
To be in resurrected bodies on a resurrected Earth in resurrected friendships, enjoying a resurrected culture with the resurrected Jesus—now that will be the ultimate party! In his book The Promise of Heaven, Douglas Connelly says,
When Jesus talked about the future, he pictured it most often as a party! Jesus was criticized regularly during his earthly ministry for having too much fun. The uptight religious people called Jesus a drunkard and a friend of low-class sinners. Even the followers of John the Baptizer were scandalized that Jesus didn’t require his disciples to put on sad faces and skip meals. Jesus enjoyed banquets and parties on earth because they reminded him so much of heaven—and because they provided wonderful opportunities to teach people how the social rules will change when Jesus is in charge.
In Heaven, everybody will be who God made them to be—and none of us will ever suffer or die again. As a Christian, the day I die will be the best day I’ve ever lived. But it won’t be the best day I ever will live. Resurrection day will be far better. And the first day on the New Earth—that will be one big step for mankind, one giant leap for God’s glory.
Photo by Ivan Samkov