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by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

July, 2013

A few Sundays ago, Pastor Kim preached about being “like a little child.” Among other things, her sermon reminded me of something that had happened a few days earlier at work. A man arrived to pick up his wife, and their young son was asleep in his car seat in the back of the car. I made a comment about the man’s “copilot” and he replied that to be a sleeping child “must be what Heaven is like.”

When I was much younger, it was a comfort to believe that my parents were in charge and nothing bad would happen. And when our daughter, Monica, was young, I would tuck her into bed and say, “Remember, I’m as close as your next breath.” I confess, though, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to sleep like a child does, trusting that everything would be all right and that someone was taking care of things. As a boy, I watched with the rest of my family as my grandmother slowly died from the lingering effects of a stroke. Then, a few years later, my mom went into the hospital for surgery and the world was much scarier and more uncertain than it had been. I had lost one close relative and, in my young heart, I knew there was no guarantee I wouldn’t lose another.

We don’t really know much about Heaven but all of us hope our loved ones will be there. Jesus said he would be there (John 14:1-4). He also said it won’t be like Earth and that we won’t be like we are now (Matt. 22:29-33). John wrote, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2 ESV). Heaven will undoubtedly be wonderful, a place where we’ll have perfect peace and no worries. Luke says Jesus referred to “paradise” (Luke 23:43). We will be something we’re not now. What that will be, we’ll just have to wait and see. But in the meantime, we live on Earth, in the present. So for now, we’ll have to continue to trust in God.

The Psalmist wrote, “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; / my eyes are not raised too high; / I do not occupy myself with things / too great and too marvelous for me.” (Psa. 131:1 ESV). In the same way, we shouldn’t “occupy [ourselves] with things too great and too marvelous” for us either. We have control over some things. Some of us have control over a great many things. Others of us barely have control over only anything at all. But God has control over everything. Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:6-7 ESV). Peter surely must have been familiar with what we know today as Psalm 55, especially verse 22: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (ESV). Shortly before he was arrested and crucified, Jesus told his disciples, “‘Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’” (John 14:27b ESV). He knew there would be dark times ahead, both for him and for them. But he also wanted them to know that God’s will would ultimately triumph (John 16:33b).

If we trust God, it will show in our actions and in our daily lives. We might be anxious at times but we will still have “. . . the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, . . .” (Phil. 4:7a ESV). Others will see that we have “cast all [our] anxieties on him”. Of course, the hard part is actually trusting God. Doubts are natural, or at least they are for me; they come from our human nature. But faith comes from God (Rom. 10:17) and is a reflection of God’s nature. The children who came to Jesus weren’t afraid. They trusted him. They trusted God. They didn’t doubt. For many of them, their circumstances were probably very poor but still they were everything we should be. Everything I should be. They were ready for Heaven.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3 ESV.)

Copyright © 2013 by David Phelps