by Shirley Brosius
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven … and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV
Preparing for a trip excites me. To celebrate our 40th wedding anniversaries, another couple joined my husband and I for a cruise to Nova Scotia. For weeks, we discussed what to wear, what land excursions we might take, and how to avoid seasickness. As the date of departure for my first cruise approached, I got butterflies. But I focused on the destination and didn’t worry about what I left behind.
Perhaps that should be our attitude, as we approach our trip to heaven. After all, that’s really the trip of a lifetime, better than any cruise or vacation. It’s all been paid for by our Savior on Good Friday. And our passports are stamped by His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
If we lived in Old Testament times, we would slay a lamb and paint its blood over our doors at this time of year in remembrance of that first Passover. During the Egyptian plagues, the Israelites were protected from the death of their first born by the blood of that slain lamb (read Exodus 12:1-12). Until the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, the Jews practiced animal sacrifices. The blood of animals “covered” their sins but did not eradicate them.
But once Christ died, animal sacrifices were no longer required from those who believe. Our sins are erased, and we are made righteous by the blood of The Lamb. Our way to heaven is paid, so we can prepare for it with all the excitement we feel for earthly excursions.
Yes, it’s natural not to want to leave planet Earth. We lead good lives. We enjoy family, friends, food, and nice homes. We say God is good, all the time. And we mean it. Well . . . He is just as good when He calls us home.
Every birthday brings me closer to that trip. Closer to death. But closer to the resurrection as well. Paul says absent from the body is present with the Lord, referring to our spirits. And when Christ returns, Paul tells us, the dead in Christ shall rise first. These crippled, hurting, broken bodies will rise from the grave and be united with Christ in the air. If we’re still alive when He returns, we will be caught up with them.
So what preparation do we need to make? For starters, we want to make sure we feel comfortable meeting God. If we don’t, we can talk to a pastor or another Christian who can assure us through Scripture that in Christ our sins are forgiven. We need only recognize Him as our Savior. That is our trip insurance. Without Him to plead our case, we will be separated from God forever. We don’t know exactly what hell will be like, but we certainly don’t want to find out.
Once we’ve settled the spiritual issue, we can write out what measures we want others to take when the date of our departure draws near. We might jot down how we want to be treated (Hmmm . . . I like easy listening music and warm bed buddy wraps) and any final wishes regarding a sendoff (services, burial, cremation, etc.). Most importantly, I can assure my family that they need not grieve for me, because I will be on the trip of a lifetime!
Easter means far more than a new spring outfit and going to church, far more than egg hunts and marshmallow chicks. Easter means I will live forever in the Presence of my Savior!
Happy Resurrection Sunday! And BonVoyage!
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Shirley Brosius lives in Millersburg, Pennsylvania. She authored Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She and her husband Bill have two married sons and a daughter waiting in heaven. Shirley has fond girlhood memories of dressing up in new Easter outfits complete with hats and gloves. These days she enjoys keeping up with five young adult grandchildren.
Join the conversation: How does knowing heaven awaits you affect your here and now?