Wednesday, September 3, 2014


When I come to the end of my summit season and finally reach the actual summit, the conclusion of my mortal life in God's appointed time for me, it will be lift-off launch time.  I will lay aside my worn "earth suit" and prepare for the change to my "space suit" which will never wear out.  Whether by angelic propulsion, or some kind of angelic winged accompaniment, or by God-craft (purely my imagination!), I will be propelled or taken from this temporal life into the Life that never ends. 

When I think about Eternity and the exciting new life that awaits me there, I wonder what it will be like after a few thousand years or so. (Who's counting? Time will be irrelevant!) But what are we going to be doing forever and forever? Playing harps and floating on clouds when not in rehearsal for the praise choir?

And then I think of Hebrews 12 which gives me a clue. It's not going to be "just Jesus and me." Heaven will be full of people! The whole Church through the ages will be there! My guess is that it will be wonderfully noisy. I'll bet we won't be speaking in whispers with "QUIET!" signs posted on every cloud. Among other occupations that we won't know about until we arrive, the saints are apparently observing and cheering on the folks who are still struggling during their earth lives!

 By "saints" I mean who Saint Paul meant when he addressed his letters, which comprise most of our New Testament canon, to the Christian believers in various cities. “Saints” meant "holy ones," the followers of Jesus Christ who are working at becoming holy with Jesus' help during their earth-time. When they finally arrive in heaven, they will be holy. They will have become saints for real! They never turn into angels which are separate beings created by God.

The Church teaches and the Bible affirms that the souls of our loved ones and friends who died in Christ are alive and well and now fulfilled and perfected in the presence of God. Jesus declared that those who believe in Him shall never die. I believe that! 
According to the book of Revelation, those who died in Christ are aware of what's going on "back here," “down here,” or “over here,” depending on in what dimension God has planned that we shall exist eternally in our immortal state. They are able to pray for us to Jesus Christ our Lord who then intercedes for our requests as the one Mediator with God the Father through the Holy Spirit's help (Romans 8:26, 27). These "finalized saints" seem to be part of what the writer of Hebrews calls "the great cloud of witnesses." There must be gazillions of them! (Revelation 8:3,4)

Some of them are praying for me! Someone is cheering me on when I'm flying low. Another may be waving a flag or ringing a bell urging me, "Press on! You can do it! God is helping you!" It may be that those who have been closest to me and who prayed for me while they were on earth are my biggest fans, my cheerleaders, calling out, "Run, sweetie, keep running!" 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us" (Hebrews 12:1). All glory to the God who sits on the Throne, who hears the prayers of the holy ones gathered there! Saints above, intercede for us all! And always cheer us onward in our journey of faith.

One of the Christian doctrines that is easiest for me to embrace and so biblically right-on is the Communion of Saints, that is, the continuing union of Christians on earth with those on the way to Heaven, and those in Heaven. I had been confessing the Communion of Saints while reciting the Apostles' Creed since I was a teenager in the Presbyterian Church. Not until I became a Catholic Christian did I fully understand that it was this wonderful union that the apostles had in mind and that I was declaring.

In practice, I joyfully make it a spiritual habit to ask by name for the intercession of my departed loved ones: my husband, parents, family, friends, and the godly ones from ages past whom I have not known but who I look forward to meet in Eternity. I have special "saints" (some on earth and some in heaven) who I ask to pray for me when I have specific needs, like wisdom for my writing and publishing. I have prayer partners on earth whom I call my “First Responders” or my "Praying Eagles." And I have prayer partners in Heaven, my "Cloud of Witnesses." 

 Those in heaven aren't able to do anything tangible for me; that is God's exclusive power. In their eternal state my heavenly prayer partners are and will always remain human without the attributes of Divinity. They can pray to Jesus for me, but the answers to my prayers and theirs come directly from Almighty God the Father.
How exciting if we could see through the veil between our two dimensions to understand how really near to us our "cloud of witnesses" might be! Someday we'll find out! Nevertheless, by faith I am encouraged and energized to keep running my earthly race as they cheer me on! 

And I look forward to my cheerleaders being right there on the other side of the Threshold leading the Welcome Celebration when I launch into Eternity!

(Excerpt from the final chapter: "Launching From My Summit" from Leona's forthcoming book, STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT)

No comments: