Panting After Heaven

Panting After Heaven

Christian Family Journal – Vol 2. (Nov. 1998)

– Gene Fedele, editorial

I confess that, until the recent death of my son, I have feared my own death to the point that I could not even think about it. When confronted with thoughts of dying agonies and corruption of the flesh, I would dismiss them quickly from my mind. Others died around me, but I believed that my time remained far enough away to be of any immediate consequence. I believed that God would prepare me for that time when I became old and inca­pacitated. I thought that I might even escape the pangs of death, and be taken up into the clouds, at the time of His return. It may be that the final judge­ment and resurrection of the body is readily at hand, but O, how foolish it is to put off eternal contemplation for a more “convenient” and “appropriate” season! 

   The suffering unto death of my only son, has drastically changed me forever. An integral part of me has been severed and sent to the world beyond the grave, awaiting me to follow. I have now become very well acquainted with the cross the Lord has called me to bear for the remainder of my life in the flesh. This is very real! As real as the print on this paper! And I can never return to a life of indifference as it relates to eternal matters. I had to ask myself, “What do I believe?” Is heaven real? Or is it just some pious hope that makes me feel better while I am alive? Do I truly look forward to that day when my soul leaves my mortal body and ascends to glory? Or is it something that I rarely think about? Am I truly prepared to meet the Lord if He should call me today? Or am I so attached to this world that even the thought of death makes me despondent. 

   I submit that the latter was my previous condition and it is often prominent in the lives of those who pro­fess Christ as Savior; primarily due to the overwhelming ignorance to the realities of, and thus, pantings after heaven. Many, I fear, are content with a practical denial of physical death and a very ambiguous understanding of what heaven really is! Rev. Heinrich Harbaugh in the preface to his book, “Heaven, a Scriptural Inquiry Into the Abode of the Sainted Dead,” says that if he believed, like many, that heaven is a place where one exists in some ethereal soul-state, singing unceasingly to harp music, he, like many Christians in his day, would not look forward to eternity. 

   I am convinced that the reason so many of God’s people have their affections set on the things of this world is because so few have truly, in the depths of their heart, relinquished this life in favor of the next. Jesus says, in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” He then continues in verses 26 and 27 with words of deep eternal significance, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” 0, may these not just be words to us, but the foundation by which we lead our lives! In writing to his fiancee, Miss Anne Davies, shortly before their mar­riage in 1789, Rev. William Jay says; 

   “I wish to live having my conversation in heaven, and then every earthly thing will seem in some measure indifferent. Yes, my love, let us determine to live as strangers and pilgrims here, and plainly declare by our profession and conduct that we seek a better country, that is a heavenly. Not when we shall be incapable of pursuing this world, and when our gust for earthly plea­sure is abated by old age; but now while our affections are so warm, and when so many are carried away by the vanity of the world and pride of life, let us unreservedly dedicate ourselves to God, and present ourselves as a liv­ing sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. Nothing but real religion can make us holy and happy in any situation or relation. In pro­portion as it prevails, we shall fine heaven begun below.” Having a genuine desire for one’s inheritance in glory, actually promotes a far happier life while on earth. Pondering things above, and laying them to heart, has released many from the sorrows of death.

   Since our precious son’s death three months ago, our family has profited greatly from the words on these pages that have been extracted from various Christian writings. We have been encouraged to know that we are not alone in our sufferings, for our Lord has delivered many from the grip of grief and despair, setting their feet firmly on the “King’s Highway.” 

It is my hope and prayer that the words on these pages will encourage you, into deeper communion with the Savior and sweeter meditation on eternal realities, in anticipation of receiving the inheritance prepared for you from the foundations of the earth.

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