We recently had a big family gathering for my husband’s side of the family. We do this once a year, not so much as a ‘Christmas’ function but more so that we can meet up with family we wouldn’t normally see. It is a great occasion and I am always amazed at how much difference a year makes. Children of cousins who I once towered over, now look down at me from amazing heights!
‘Where did that time go? When did you all grow up?’ the adults said to the delight of the growing young teenagers. Then the kids ran off to play basketball and show each other the latest apps on their iPods while we stood around talking about how old it makes us feel and how it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were in their shoes (although at that age we had no idea what apps were, or iPods for that matter!). How quickly life escapes us and how true the cliche, ‘make the most of every minute’!
A few years ago, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away from it. I remember our last conversation. She knew she didn’t have long and she was at peace about it. We talked about how one day we will meet on a beach in heaven somewhere and catch up on everything, and I have no doubt that one day we will and she had no doubt either. I remember being astounded at the joy in her voice and thinking how amazing this precious girl was.
It was a bitter-sweet moment and it was very difficult to finish that conversation, but I know where she is and that it is the place where she is most happy. You see, she had been storing up her treasures in heaven. Her love was for God and she was so excited to be going to see him.
Another impacting example of this was my husband’s grandad. You would just have to mention the name ‘Jesus’ and his eyes would light up. He would tell us wonderful truths from the Bible and he would glow like it was alive within him. He was so excited about the prospect of going to heaven that six months before he passed, he almost seemed disappointed when he survived an operation.
Although it has pained us greatly to lose loved ones in our lives, we are so grateful for the legacy they have left for us and the glimpse of heaven we saw in their eyes.
Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew chapter 6 verses 19-21)
One thing I want to see when I get to heaven is as many people that I know as possible. For, although I love Christmas and the wafting aroma of warm cinnamon in the baking ginger bread, the songs that evoke images of snow, log fires and sleighs being pulled by reindeers (even though in Australia we sit in sweltering heat), what I love most is the people who are a part of my life.
The smiles on wide-eyed children as they gaze at the Christmas lights on houses and manger scenes at the shopping centers. The coming together of communities to sing together at carol services. These are wonderful treasures and maybe minuscule glimpse of heaven on earth.
Enjoy your Christmas and being with those you love. Blessings to you and your families.
First published Christian Today Australia 17 December 2012
Republished in Encounter magazine issue 6 2014 and again in issue 6 December 2015