The last couple of times I’ve been in airports, I’ve been fascinated to watch people being reunited with family and friends. Twice recently, I went to pick someone up at the airport and as I stood there waiting to catch a sight of those I was there for, I witnessed husbands being reconnected with their wives, children with a parent/grandparent, relatives with family, friends with friends, people holding up signs with specific people’s names on it, and so on. You have probably also seen as I have, videos of those in the military finally arriving home and the emotional and “magical” moment of being reconnected and reunited with their spouse/children/family. They can’t wait to get home and their family can’t wait for them to come home. Those on the “other side” are waiting to welcome those arriving with growing anticipation. When they finally arrive there are several emotional embraces, joyful excitement, and slaps on the back. Those arriving often look tired, but there is a sense of being rejuvenated and relieved once reconnected again.
All of this made me think of our journey here on earth towards eternity. For those of us whose who are “heaven-bound” our journey is full of “turbulence” and we grow tiresome. It can feel like a “long flight” at times, full of “delays” and “setbacks” but also times of “wonder” and “awe” as we “look out the window” and witness the power of God and also times of “refreshing” and “refreshment” that he provides along the way. And though the flight can have some positive experiences, our hearts and souls long for “home,” for “heaven” the place we are heading. Our hearts long for the place we truly belong, where there will be no more tears or sorrow or sadness. A place of no more problems or pain. A place where we see and know God fully and we are fully known. A place of perfection, fullness of joy and continual pleasure as we bask in His presence with our true family.
And what a day, what a moment it will be when we either “awaken” in his presence or Jesus comes back for His own and we are reunited with our true “family.” Both pictures are painted for us in Scripture. And having been in the airport multiple times recently, it has been a reminder and min-picture of what that moment will be like:
2 Peter 1:10-11 for example reminds us: “Therefore my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
God’s faithful people have a wonderful moment in store for them when they finally “arrive” on the “other side! This speaks of a “rich welcome” that awaits us. I’ve been on mission trips where we have traveled very far to meet with believers in churches or children in schools. The welcome that we have received in many of those places I would describe as a “rich welcome.” Kids singing, clapping, dancing, hugging, embracing, surrounding, celebrating. Believers smiling, standing, shaking hands, giving gifts. It’s all a mini-picture and reminder of the welcome awaiting the children of God.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 also tells us of a day that will come when: “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, 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. Therefore encourage one other with these words.”
What a moment that will be! What a day of rejoicing in being “reunited” with one another and most of all with the Lord Himself. This is what we have to look forward to as believers in Christ! A feast and endless eternal fellowship awaits us.
And this is a reminder that the “flight” is not the end-all or “it” in and of itself. While there may be much to “see” and “experience” and even “do” along the way; while there are people we meet and connect with on the “plane”…this is all temporary. We are in transit. The flight and the plane are just the avenue and vehicle by which we get to our destination. Don’t get too attached to the “plane” because this flight will end. It’s simply what takes us from where we were to where we are meant to be.
May I also point out that sadly, some are taking a flight that offers the best of this world, but the end is death and destruction and the destination is the opposite of heaven. They are taking the wrong flight in the wrong direction. It’s a flight that is more comfortable, convenient and costs less upfront but arrives in a destination where there will be no “rich welcome”, no way out, no “return flights” and will end up costing everything, resulting in utter despair, hopelessness, pain and torment. There is a way off this flight while it is in transit (the “parachute” of trust and faith in Jesus) but once it lands (or crashes) it’s over. There remains only darkness, aloneness, distress, regret and anguish.
By contrast, the flight to heaven is not as comfortable, convenient or cheap. The ticket itself is free, as the owner of the plane has paid the cost of the flight in full himself for his passengers! But it requires leaving behind all we have known in order to board. And much of what we bring on the “flight” that we think is “luggage” is really “baggage” that will not be permitted in the country we are going too!
But what we will gain when we “land” is more than anything we ever had (or thought we had) to begin with before “boarding!” And at the end of that long flight to a distant land…a rich welcome is awaiting. A glorious reunion will occur. True eternal rest will finally be a reality…in a “home” designed just for you and I. Our strength will be renewed, a new body awaits us, our brothers in sisters in Christ will embrace us…and best of all we will finally see our Lord and Savior face to face!
Let us keep our eyes on eternity. Let us live for that moment when we “arrive” to our true destination. Let us make sure that a “rich welcome” awaits us, that we are truly on board the “plane” that is headed for heaven.
“By faith he (Abraham) made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents (temporary dwelling place) as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10).
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love Him-these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going…I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6)