Recently, one of my professors from my days in college passed away at the age of 90. I had him for homiletics, although he had his doubts about my ability to pass the class. Typically, one was required to take speech before this class on sermon preparation and delivery would be available for you. I had not done so, and was asking him for an exemption to that rule. After some discussion on why the prerequisite class was important, and my pleading my case, he again said I would not be able to pass. I remember saying, “Try me.” He agreed. I don’t know if I baited him into it, or he was wanting to see how much I wanted to take the class, but he relented, and I made an A. Whether he was testing me or not, it was a valuable class that helped me better understand how to craft a lesson that would communicate God’s word effectively to others.
In addition to this personal anecdote, I remember him as someone who loved to preach and teach. He wrote books on evangelism, along with his signature study on Revelation, and held meetings and seminars in an earnest desire that people would realize the importance of responding to the gospel. What sticks with me more than anything else, though, was his use of the thumbs up (long before Facebook was a thing) and the saying, “Be there!” The there was heaven. Don’t miss heaven was his unofficial theme.
Moses reminds us the days of our lives, on average, number 70, or if by virtue of strength, 80 (Psa. 90:10a). We may have fewer than this, or more, but whatever the time we have, heaven must be our theme. It certainly was on the mind of Paul, who spoke of it constantly. He knew well how we live today has a direct bearing on where we will live in eternity. He did everything he could to reach as many as he could. Not only this, he was conscientious about the example he set, as he did not want to miss heaven either. “Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). It is appropriate to consider Moses statement in the rest of Psa. 90:10, which reminds us, no matter the days we have, they never seem to be enough. “Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away” (Psa. 90:10b).
We all have someone, or several someones, who help us understand life is more than today, and the more we understand that, the more we want to use our influence, in what we say and how we live, to help others understand it. Satan wants to distract us, to divert our efforts to today, to miss the big picture. We should take advantage of every opportunity we have to remind others what we are living for. Maybe it’s a thumb’s up and saying be there. Maybe it’s a hug and the words, “I love you.” Maybe it’s someone close passing away, reminding us what was important to them, helping to solidify in us a spiritual focus for an eternal reunion. Maybe it’s a positive example for others to see. Whatever it is, please let others know how important the gospel is to you and them, now and eternally. As Peter tells us, “And I will also make every effort so that you are able to recall these things at any time after my departure” (2 Pet. 1:15). Whatever it take, heaven…be there.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”