Happy 10 years in Heaven today, Joel!
Joel, I love you so, so much. I am SO grateful for you.
You must be so proud of how bravely your big brother, Josh, and his wife, Cora, are enduring the great suffering he is experiencing. We are so proud of the way he is fighting for his life as he searches and waits for someone healthy enough to qualify to donate a kidney on his behalf and in doing so gives him the gift of life.
I know you can’t wait to see him again, but I am really hoping that I get to meet you and Jesus at Heaven’s gates before he does. He and Cora would really like to welcome children of their own into their family and raise them to live well for Christ. I hope that it is part of God’s plan to use them to start giving me lots of grandkids one day soon. It breaks my heart that Dad and James and Judi and I are not healthy enough to donate a kidney for him.
I’ve been thinking about the perspective you and the other saints in Heaven must have on the unseen things here on earth and above and how you know how immensely important and intense the battle against the forces of darkness is and the consequences that hang in its balance. You see the passion of Jesus burning like fire in His eyes. You see our heavenly Father’s face and His incredible love and tender care for us. You see His angels and saints and hear their stories and see the glory Jesus is winning through them all.
I’ve been thinking how you and other saints in Heaven must be so moved to pray for us and how puny and apathetic my prayers must seem in comparison. I am so thankful that Holy Spirit is working on that in me.
Dad and I started reading a new book by Randy Alcorn on Heaven this week. It’s called “We Shall See God.” Randy shares many of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons on Heaven and comments on them in it. We’re only on chapter three and it is Ah-MAZING! I can already tell I am going to want to read this book over and over again.
Randy’s wife, Nanci, joined you in Heaven earlier this year. Have you met her? I imagine Mamalene and Granddad introduced you to Charles Spurgeon a long time ago. They loved his sermons.
Last night, these portions of Spurgeon’s sermon stood out to me:
"Brothers and sisters, we are like warriors fighting for the victory; we don't as yet share in the shout of triumph. Even up in Heaven [the saints] have not yet received their full reward."
I knew you must be praying because you are with Jesus in His Father’s House and Jesus declared, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer’” (Matthew 21:13) so it must be so. I have personally experienced the powerful effects of the prayers of the saints (both of those cheering from Heaven and of those still running beside me on earth). Knowing that you are apart of the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on has helped me tremendously to endure and to keep turning to and fixing my eyes on Jesus the “the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
I had not considered that you were still waiting to receive your full reward though I’ve meditated on these verses since early in our journey of missing you:
“And when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony they had upheld. And they cried out in a loud voice, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You avenge our blood and judge those who dwell upon the earth?’
Then each of them was given a white robe and told to rest a little while longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers, were killed, just as they had been killed.” – Revelation 6:9-11
I know that waiting means enduring and enduring, cheering and praying are all ways that we battle for the Heavenly Kingdom. You are a brother warrior fighting for the victory with us. What a beautiful thing to realize as we continue to battle on the 10th anniversary of your entrance into Heaven!
Spurgeon goes on to say:
"Those in Heaven are blessed, but they have not had their public entrance. They are waiting till their Lord shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the trump of the archangel and the voice of God. Then their bodies shall rise; then the world shall be judged; then the righteous shall be divided from the wicked. And then, the Prince at their head, the whole of the blood-washed host, wearing their white robes, and bearing their palms of victory, shall march up to their crowns and to their thrones to reign forever and ever!
For this fulfillment the believing heart is panting, groaning, and sighing."
He is right! Romans 8 tells us this is so. You and others who were slain are still resting, waiting and longing for the Lord to avenge your blood and judge those who dwell on the earth. You are waiting for the full number of saints to be killed. You are waiting for our resurrection and the Lamb’s victory fulfilled. You are waiting, and groaning with all of creation, the Spirit and all of the saints for the shout that will accompany the Lord’s descent and the “redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:18-27).
You are blessed. You no longer suffer or die or mourn the way those on earth do. You cheer and wait and groan in battle with us through prayer.
"A Christian's experience is like a rainbow, made up of drops of the griefs of Earth and beams of the happiness of Heaven. It is a checkered scene, a garment of many colors. He is sometimes in the light and sometimes in the dark. The text says, "We groan." ... We groan within ourselves. Our sighs are sacred things..."
Isn’t that a beautiful way to express it?! On earth we experience the “beams of the happiness of Heaven” mixed with drops of grief. Our good Heavenly Father shines His glorious Light through our sorrows and we remember His promise that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Your faith has become sight in Heaven. You continually experience only the “beams of the happiness of Heaven” there, yet you continue to wait and cheer and groan. Our groans and sighs are sacred things that reach through the veil.
A friend at church shared with me Sunday that she recently had a vision where the Lord pulled her into Himself and so far into the universe away from her problems until the earth looked like a tiny speck. She said she resisted being pulled away at first, but then everything was so beautiful. Jesus pointed at her life on the earth and asked her, “What do you see?” She answered, “It’s only a minute.” She saw the smallness and brevity of her earthly life and problems compared to the vastness of God and eternity.
Our life is but a vapor. I want to use my minute well. I want to make you proud that I am on your team battling and groaning, enduring and waiting well on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. I want an eternal perspective that sees the unseen eternal things that hang in the balance. I want to continue to endure and fix my eyes on Jesus and run my race for the joy set before me as He did. I want to see the passion burning like fire in His eyes. I want the steadfast lovingkindness, compassion and mercy of our heavenly Father to burn in my heart through the power of Holy Spirit so that my prayers might be set ablaze, no longer embarrassingly puny and apathetic. I want my minute to become a story that glorifies our Great and Victorious Lamb of God.
I love you, I am proud of you and I am looking forward to seeing you again soon!