Often we have heard quoted 1 Corinthians 2:9 to answer the cry of our hearts for more insight into what is waiting for believers on the other side of the veil:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But the next verse is hardly ever referenced in connection with that hopeful declaration. It reads, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
Even so, we mortals have a difficult time graspi8ng just how it will be over there, where life is eternal and there is no sinfulness, no conflict of personalities, no lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes or pride of life that we continually struggle with in this physical world.
When my wife, Marge, passed away this past January 21, 2016, I was suddenly brought up short with some realities that I had never faced before. First, I realized that my horizons had suddenly become much closer. Then, I became aware that I had never quite grasped the fact that this physical life and physical world I am living in is actually temporary.
It will no longer remain at some point in the future. That eternal life beyond the veil is the real one, the permanent one! None of our imaginations can quite come up with all of what that means. If you can forgive my frankness, perhaps sharing some of these impressions and related Scriptures may provide some insight into how it will be in that coming transition that each one of us will one day embrace.
Marge was a wonderful wife and mother of our two children and grandmother to our four third generation youngsters. She was a true helpmeet for over 46 years. She suffered for 34 years with breast cancer that eventually went into her bones, yet she was conquering it with attention to keeping her immune system strengthened and staying away from the chemo and radiation treatments that so many suffer from with great indignity.
At the beginning she had radiation treatments which apparently damaged her heart and brought her mortal body to its end. These, of course, are my opinions, and I am not a medical person. The point is that her heart was failing in its ability to maintain all of the functions it so wonderfully does with voluntary effort, and in total defiance of the theory of evolution! With all of these medical difficulties her testimony before many was her joy and hope, with an uplifting spirit, that came through without complaint.
In her last moments of struggle that voluntary effort of her heart was grasping for the ability to keep on functioning. Yet, her last audible words were a cry of “Help me, Jesus!” Her spirit was reaching out for the arms of Jesus, no doubt, for she could see what was over there and did not want that mortal body to hold her back any longer. One of her closest friends and spiritual companions was at her home a few miles away when those final struggles were going on with Marge, and she told me that she experienced a strong urge to pray for her. As she prayed, she came to another great sense to stop praying for her. Then she experienced a strange, yet wonderful sensation—she heard angels singing!
That testimony provides great closure to one who has had a person’s presence intertwined in his life for over 46 years, yet that “becoming one flesh” description of the relationship seems to penetrate to the very fiber of our being, and the adjustment to the separation takes on a whole new meaning.
Some scriptural truths have come to mind during these months since Marge has gone into the presence of Jesus. In Luke 23:46 we are told this:
“And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.”
That was the picture portrayed in Marge’s passing. As Jesus left His body to be entombed, so did she. Her spirit went into the arms of Jesus, and her body will follow in the resurrection that happens at the Rapture when “the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
Jesus’ body was there only three days, as the Scriptures prophesied. In Psalm 16:9-10, the psalmist voices the words of the coming Redeemer in prophetic language, not only as the Son of Man in the flesh, but also as deity, the second member of the Trinity:
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
Paul writes with a forward look at what Marge has experienced already, and which we who remain will have waiting us as well:
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.
For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
The writer, or writers, of Hebrews speak of the hope which we have as an anchor of the soul, that hope which resounds throughout Scripture:
“Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:17-20).
That is our hope, our expectation, and thus, we say with Paul, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Even so, while we have hints of what we will find over there, it is like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” And John further amplifies the thought with his input in 1 John 3:2-3:
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
In processing through my physical loss of Marge, I have come to realize some realities. She is no longer a mortal person; she is not coming back. And one other more striking realization is that our marriage is also over. Here is what Jesus said about that issue: “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mark 12:24-25).
Paul also confirms this, in respect to the rule of law on marriage, in his discussion about the power of the law until the death of either of the marriage partners in Romans 7:1-6.
Thus, there is no marriage in heaven. Sorry to disappoint the Mormons and the Muslims in their anticipation of great satisfaction of their fleshly lusts in their lives beyond. Those respective doctrines are creations of mortal men whose desires are of the flesh and not of the Spirit.
However, for the believers, the unity we have with our loved ones in this life will be enhanced, no doubt, by the fulfillment of the goal of oneness that Jesus spoke of in His prayer in John 17:21, “…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us….”
As we struggle through the grieving times, it would not be an uncommon question, “Why am I left here?” As we were reflecting on this issue recently, my son recalled a portion of his pastor’s sermon a few weeks earlier. It went like this: The pastor looked out upon the congregation and stated, “If you are still here, then God has something more for you to do, or He has something He wants to do for you or in you!”
That seems to adequately answer the question of “why,” and it is a rather stimulating thought as to what God’s purpose might be. At least one directive comes to mind that Jesus voiced in a parable in Luke 19:12-14, “Occupy till I come.”
Once I was attempting to comfort a young couple upon the loss of their young child, referring them to the Luke passage where he writes of having treasures in heaven, “for where your treasure is there will be your heart also” (Luke 12:34). Now I must take my own counsel, for I know that Marge is there now, enjoying the fulfillment that can only come when we are in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.