One of the sweetest voices of recent years must be that of the New Zealand performer Hayley Westenra. A CD of her songs was, for a time, probably the most played on any of our car journeys, near or far.
Her lyrics are sensitive and moving, not least those that accompany the melody of ‘Heaven’.
The line asking the question why the good die young and her prayer request that ‘Heaven waits for everyone in the end’ really stir the soul.
What is that place like, I wanted to know, and could it be ‘for everyone’?
Eddie Purse, a minister friend, helped me with my understanding, and obviously delighted in the special opportunity given to him to address the subject.
“It is a place of exquisite beauty, where colours are richer, fuller, deeper than anything we have ever envisaged here.
“It is a place where I shall feel forever young, where there will be no anxieties or fears, where everyone will live together in perfect harmony.
“Above all, it is a place where I will never need to go to bed again!”
I wanted to ask what people would do there, but my interruption was passed by, and he continued,
“In that place I shall be at total peace with myself and with those around me. I shall know what it is like to be in an environment of total love, absolute joy and incredible laughter. There will be no doctors or dentists, and certainly no funerals.”
What will ne we do there? Still no direct answer ...
“There will be nothing offensive and nothing will cause offence. We shall discover that God is amazing and more wonderful than we ever thought he was.
“We shall not have to go to church any more, or be involved in religious activities.”
I tried another approach. How could he be so sure of this?
“As a Christian, I appreciate the witness of God’s Holy Spirit and there are also pictures and ideas communicated in Scripture. If I am called upon to convince the sceptic or unbeliever, I can argue that within us we discover a longing for something more than we are and have in this life.”
Eddie explained that in his ministry over the years, he had conducted hundreds of funerals, had been at the bedside of many dying people, and had come to the conclusion that the best way was to speak of the resurrection of Christ, which brings great assurance of security in the hereafter for all who have made a firm commitment to the Lord.
“There is, in every one of us, an awareness of an existence beyond this. If that were not the case, then there would be considerable sense in suicide.”
I am still not sure of how exactly I shall be occupied in heaven, and my own Bible reading does not give too much information on the subject.
But Eddie and I agreed that, for believers, the most precious part of meeting with Jesus is to be able to give him heartfelt thanks for all her did for us that first Easter long ago, bringing forgiveness and hope for the future.
Maybe it will take eternity to do that adequately.
John 17, 24, words of Jesus, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory ...”
P.S. Are you going to Bible by the Beach?