Heaven versus Our Unfinished Business

Fri, 29 Nov 2013 Source: Gyebi, Daniel

In July this year, I went to a drug store in the Houston Area to buy medicine. The name tag on the young man who attended to me read, “Heavens.” I asked him if that was his real name and he said yes. I also asked him if he was a Christian, and he said yes. After he handed me the medicine, I smiled at him and told him that I pray that by the grace of God he and I would one day meet in heaven. He smiled back, thanked me, and then said, “Sir, I hope not soon.” Because there were other customers in line behind me, I could not carry out the conversation further.

“Sir, I hope not soon.” This is the response to an invitation to heaven? I worried about the young man as I left the store and did pray for him when I arrived home. At the same time, I sympathized with him. Here was a young man in his 20s, perhaps attending a pharmacy school to obtain his Pharm.D. degree and start earning big money and begin his American Dream. What was I thinking expecting him to abandon all of them for heaven?

Like the young man, many people have big dreams, interesting plans, and unfinished business. Some, for example, are in the process of completing their university degrees or professional training and are dreaming of the big money that comes with those accomplishments. Some, especially in the Diaspora, have saved and sent money to Ghana for buildings and other projects. Some have not gone home to see their projects yet, but have received pictures of their mansions are happy about what they see. Someday, they hope to retire and go back home and live in the mansions happily ever after. Others have put together plans to go back home and marry that beautiful woman or handsome man they left behind to travel overseas. And some are on the verge of signing lucrative business contracts that would positively change their fortunes.

These are all noble dreams and unfinished business that deserve to be fulfilled. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had an occasion to address an unfinished business. Jesus visited the home of two sisters, Martha and Mary, as recorded in Luke Chapter 10. As many of us do when we are expecting an important visitor, Martha and Mary started making preparations to receive Jesus. When Jesus arrived, Mary stopped whatever she was doing and stayed closely in the presence of the Lord listening to him. Meanwhile, Martha had an unfinished business to handle because her preparations were incomplete. When she was not getting any help from Mary, Martha complained to Jesus to tell Mary to come and help her, but Jesus refused. Instead, Jesus told Martha that she worried about many things, and that only one thing was needed, and Mary had chosen that thing and he was not going to take that away from her.

Mary was in the presence of the Lord, the best place for anyone to be. In the presence of the Lord, there is liberty, peace, and joy. King David knew that, and that was why he said in Psalm 122:1 that he was glad when they said unto him, let us go into the house of the Lord. King David, whom the Prophet Samuel described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), would not let the luxuries of his kingship separate him from the presence of the Lord. Similarly, when Jesus was 12 years old and his parents were looking for him and found him at the Temple, the King of Kings asked his parents, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). Think about these Kings next time you are tempted to absent yourself from Church or fellowship. Interestingly, what Martha was doing was for the benefit of Jesus, or so she thought. Yet, Jesus was not impressed about her misplaced priorities. Misplaced priorities because rather than seizing the opportunity to stay closer to Jesus and listening to him as Mary was doing, Martha was perhaps busy preparing food for Jesus without realizing that in the view of our Savior, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4). Among the lessons learned is that the fact that we are doing something very important is not a good reason to keep the Lord waiting or put God on hold. We should avoid many of the distractions of this world and stay focused, connected, and engaged with the Lord.

In other words, no dream, plan or unfinished business, however big or noble, should come between us and our God. As Christians, we should be heaven-ready. If we had a military that were not battle-ready, we would not be happy with it. In the same way, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would not be happy if we are not ready to welcome him when he comes back or when we are called home. Nothing or no one in this world should cause any Christian to put heaven on hold. The Lord will provide for our absence. The Bible is clear that eyes have not seen nor ears heard nor minds conceived about what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9). Let’s pray that the Lord would open our eyes, ears, and minds to picture what the glorious future holds so that we can put our lives and things in the right perspective.

The first of the Ten Commandments warns us against having other gods before the Almighty God. (Exodus 20:3). If there is anything that we are so passionate about, which consumes our every thought and deed for an extended period of time, and from which we cannot physically and emotionally disengage in order to go to heaven or do what Christians are called to do, such as worship, prayer, Bible reading, propagation of the Gospel, and love for our neighbors etc., we are moving dangerously close to making that thing our god or idol. God hates idolatry. Too much pre-occupation with the things of this world will make us too grounded to the earth. Earthly Christians are too friendly with the world, and friendship with the world is hatred towards God (James 4:4). Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ advises us that we should not store up our treasures on earth, but to store them in heaven, and that where our treasures are, that is where our hearts will also be. (Matthew 6:19-21). He also asks what it would profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul (Mark 8:36). And he uses the Parable of the Ten Virgins to illustrate the need for us to be ready for his coming because no one knows exactly when he will come (Matthew 25:1-13).

As forgiven sinners saved by grace, our only hope for heaven is our faith through the grace of God. It is grace that has brought all of us this far, not our works, and grace will take us home.

Being heaven-ready is not an invitation to slumber or slouch. On the contrary, it is a call to action. It should cause us to get up and recognize the urgency of the moment and the need to work harder and take on the Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28: 18-20). It should cause us to love each other, to show mercy, and to forgive those who wrong us. It should cause us to be on the right side of the fight for human rights, to be the protector of the poor and powerless, and to remember what Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40). It should cause us to moderate our pursuit of money because ill-gotten wealth would not accompany us to the next life and may be squandered mercilessly by some unintended and undeserving beneficiaries. And it should cause us to pause and ask what Jesus would do before we take major decisions or actions because, in the end, only that which we do for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will last.

And so what is it that makes you want to put heaven on hold? Money, wealth, family, work, business, friends, school, fame, position etc? Please take that thing or person to the Lord in prayer, and he will show you how to re-arrange and prioritize your life. What all of us need is divine balance between the spiritual and the physical, and among our competing responsibilities, commitments, and interests. I continue to pray for the young man so that he would find divine balance and not allow any degree or unfinished business to come between himself and the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Dream big, press on, transform some of your dreams into concrete actions that help humanity, make Jesus your Lord and Savior, put God first, and be heaven-ready to leave everything behind.

May the Lord give you a gentle push for you to press on the upward way; may he lift you up and plant your feet on higher ground.

Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on heaven's table land, A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground. (Author: Johnson Oatman, Jr.; Music: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel)

Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.

PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. The facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 027-7423815.

Columnist: Gyebi, Daniel