A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things in order, she contacted her pastor and asked him to come to her house to discuss some of her final wishes.
She told him which songs she wanted sung at her funeral service, what Scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. She requested to be buried with her favorite Bible.
As the pastor prepared to leave, the woman suddenly remembered something else. “There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.
“What’s that?” said the pastor.
“This is important,” the woman said. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”
The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.
The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part of the meal because I knew something better was coming—like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. So, when people see me in that casket with a fork in my hand and they ask, ‘What’s with the fork?’ I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!'”
There was a man in our church in Ft Gibson that told this story or made reference to this story nearly every week. He mentioned this so often that I think of him and this story every time I read about heaven. Ed passed away several years ago and I have to think that there was a fork in his coat pocket at his funeral.
There will come a time when all believers will experience the best that is yet to come. This is a big part of the hope we have as believers. Heaven is a hope that is part of our salvation. We are saved from the penalty of sin. We are being saved from the power of sin. One day this salvation will be fully completed and we will be saved from the very presence of sin. As the old song says, this world is not our home, we are just passing through, our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. There is a better day coming. One of the questions this brings up is, what is heaven like? My blog post this week and probably next week will focus on answering this from Revelation 21.
Human history begins in a paradise called the Garden of Eden and it will end in a paradise called New Jerusalem. What we read about in Revelation 21 is the final consummation of what began on in Genesis. The salvation that Jesus purchased for us on the cross will be finally and fully consummated in the day described in Revelation 21. What began in Genesis is brought to completion in Revelation. I read something that showed the parallels of Genesis and Revelation that I thought was pretty neat.
1:1 – heavens & earth created 21:1 – New heavens & earth
1:16 – Sun created 21:23 – No need for the sun
1:5 – Night established 22:5 – No night there
1:10 – The seas created 21:1 – No more seas [exiled on Patmos!]
3:14-17 – The curse announced 22:3 – No more curse
[Satan, serpent, soil]
3:19 – Death enters history 21:4 – No more death
3:24 – Man driven from paradise 22:14 – Man restored to paradise
3:17 – Sorrow & pain began 21:4 – No more tears or pain
Right now we are living in a time between Genesis and Revelation. Our salvation has been purchased on the cross but not completed in Heaven. So we live in a time when heaven is something we are hoping for. Remember that Biblical hope isn’t a far fetched desire that we’d like to see happen. Instead, it is the confident expectation that God will do exactly as He’s said He will do. One of the things that God has said is that there is coming a time when sin will be destroyed and salvation will be completed. We hope according to God’s Word that this day will come.
I heard a sermon recently where the preacher said that hope that is never fulfilled is a delusion. The world largely thinks that believers are delusional because we hope for this perfect place and this future salvation. However, it’s important for us to understand that we are not delusional. Now there really isn’t any way to convince an unbelieving world of this, but it’s important for believers to understand and hold tightly to the truth that heaven is a real place. One day our faith will give way to sight and we will see and be in heaven.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Revelation 21:1-2 (NKJV)
For further study read Revelation 21. What are some things that stand out to you about the day described here? What kind of hope does this fill you with?