In 23+ years of pastoring, I’ve never had this happen. This week I sat beside two people — both living through the final stages of cancer — who wanted to plan their own memorial service. Two women, one married and one whose husband recently died; both wonderful ladies with a long history at Calvary; both with family members surrounding them in what could be their final days, weeks or months; both with faith in Jesus.
They have both chosen different songs, different scriptures, different wishes, but some of the questions and the statements were the same. Both of them had questions about heaven. By the way, I’m convinced that most of our evangelical cartoons of heaven miss the mark. It’s not puffy white clouds, harps and halos. It’s not one insufferably long church service. Imagine your best day on earth, it’s more like that…forever. Heaven is more substantially real than earth, not less. Most importantly if home is where you are loved the most, then heaven is home because no one loves you like Jesus. Heaven is home. Heaven is healing. Heaven is adventure and growing and learning. Heaven is glory.
Both of them had questions about heaven, but without knowing all of heaven’s details, both of them made this statement. “I’m ready.” “Dan I’m ready, when Jesus is ready to take me, I’m ready to go.”
Here is my question. Are you ready? Neither one of them would claim perfection, I’m sure both of them have a few regrets, few things undone, but both of them are ready. Are you ready? Some of us will make the transition from earth to heaven in an unforeseen moment, a tragic accident, a deadly slip on the soap in the bathroom, but most of us will have some time as we approach death to ask ourselves that question, “Am I ready?”
Of course I believe that the primary factor in answering that question involves Jesus. Do I know Jesus? Have I accepted his gracious gift of life, by accepting his sacrifice, believing in the resurrection and surrendering my heart to him. This will give us a “yes-by-grace-I-am-ready” answer. But having done that, being ready might involve a bit more. It might involve questions like, “Have I forgiven completely? Have I loved my neighbors, my friends, my family, well? Have I taken risks to serve others? Have I done what God prepared me to do?”
If that is the case, then being ready… starts now.
What will you do today to be able to answer the “ready” question with a solid yes?