What image comes to mind when you think about heaven? Do you imagine clouds and harps and winged seraphim? I get a vision of green hills, blooming flowers, and abundant wildlife (as C.S. Lewis described at the end of The Narnia Chronicles). Or perhaps you anticipate a vast crowd of people, friends and family waiting to welcome you.
Our assurance of heaven is a great comfort, especially when we lose someone we love. We can be confident that we’ll see them again and that we’ll spend forever together.
But what happens when that person we love has clearly rejected God’s offer of Himself? Heaven isn’t the only possible destination. The Bible clearly says that those who reject God’s offer of Heaven consign themselves to Hell—a horrible place devoid of God’s loving presence.
How do we cope with the loss of someone who didn’t choose God?
As I write this Thursday morning, one of our closest friends is being prepped for transplant surgery. After only eight weeks on a waiting list, the call came that somewhere in Colorado a young man had been critically injured in a car accident. He had signed a donor card and was a good match. What had until now been a theoretical, someday possibility suddenly became, “Let’s go, this is real!”
After talking to the transplant coordinator, our friend’s first reaction was to earnestly pray for the donor and his family. After all, we know from firsthand experience that God can bring to life even the dead, and this man was not dead yet. Our friend was more than willing to wait, should God choose to heal him. But an few hours later came another call—there was no brain function and the doctors were taking the man off life support.