Reflections on spiritual themes (and a few other things).

Tag: Heaven


To “enroll” is to add a person to an official list of members or participants. 

I doubt a week passes that most of us aren’t invited to enroll in something. It could be a conference or workshop, an insurance program, a sports team, an exercise class, a gym membership, a webinar, a subscription, or a school. 

When you enroll in something, it says three things. First, it says that you’re interested in it. Second, it says that you have a compelling reason for being included. Finally, it says that you want to reserve a place in it. 

In the book of Hebrews, the author speaks of the most significant kind of enrollment, our enrollment in heaven. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12.22-24).

He’s describing his readers’ place in Christ. They were Jews who at some point had become Christians, but who were now experiencing severe persecution. They were tempted to return to the familiar and comfortable ways of Judaism, but the writer makes appeal after appeal to remain loyal to Jesus. Here, he says that in coming to Jesus they became part of the body of Christ and were now enrolled in heaven. The NIV and CSB versions say their names are “written in heaven.”

Think about that. When you became a Christian, you signed up for heaven. Jesus has reserved a place for you in the heavenly realm. But it’s not just something we wait for until Jesus returns, we’re Christ’s body right now. We’re already experiencing a taste of heaven as the family of God. We need to continue living like citizens of heaven (see Philippians 3.20).

The author brings this point home to his readers a few verses later when he says, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12.28-29). 

Until our enrollment is fulfilled in heaven, we must continue on earth with grateful, reverent service to the God who’s preparing an eternal place for us in heaven, and who’s already signed us up for permanent residence.


Author Jim Rohn said, “I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacation with better care than they do their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.”

I’m second to none in my zeal for vacations. When my wife and I take trips, we make plans. We consider the destination, the mode of travel, the route, the accommodations, the meals, the activities, the budget, the weather, and the souvenirs. All those things are elements of a successful trip, and they deserve at least a little bit of consideration before leaving. 

But after vacation comes the return to normalcy and the resumption of ordinary life. What are your plans for your life? 

Growing up I heard a lot of preachers say, “Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” That sentiment is based on Jesus’ statement in John 14.1-3: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (ESV)

There’s a lot about that text I don’t understand. Jesus doesn’t tell us what preparations he’s making. He doesn’t describe the rooms or dwelling places we’ll inhabit. He doesn’t tell us exactly when he’s returning to gather us. But I do understand that he hasn’t forgotten about his followers, and that being in the Father’s house eternally will be a special thing.

But there’s an important implication. If Jesus is preparing a place for us to stay, what plans are we making to be with him? We don’t take vacations without making plans and decisions beforehand. Do we honestly think that the most important destination of all deserves any less?

We prepare for things we think are important. If heaven isn’t at the top of our list, we need a reassessment of what’s important. The most important thing of all is our spiritual wellbeing. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16.26, NASB)

The point is simple: We’re all preparing right now for our eternal dwelling place. The question is whether we’re preparing to be with Jesus in our Father’s house. 


As a minister, I’ve attended a lot of funerals through the years. One feature common to all is the sharing of memories between family and friends. Often, visitations will feature slide shows, videos, memorabilia, and photos of the departed.

Memories, especially with the grieving, are a bridge between past, present and future. Long after our friends and family are gone, we still remember events, comments, and moments as if we were still experiencing them.

As we get older, we sometimes romanticize the memories, recalling only the best parts, or filtering out the worst parts. We sometimes remember the same things over and over. Sometimes the memories stay in our minds, and we withdraw into that place, and although nobody else can enter that place, those who live there seem content.

Using our memories, we sometimes judge the present by the past. Memories of long-ago are altered to suit our current thinking. Rather than reflecting what really happened, we remember things how we wish they happened. The Israelites were guilty of this after they left Egyptian bondage. In Numbers 11.4-6, they complained, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” “Free” fish? They conveniently forgot they were slaves! Nothing was free!

This makes me wonder about how memory will work in eternity. After Jesus returns and gathers his people home, how will we remember things? I think the apostle Paul gives us a hint. He said there is coming a time when “I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13.12). I believe he was talking about heaven. 

I imagine heaven as being a place not of perfect memory, but of perfected memories. Not complete recollection, but a proper understanding of what we do recall. Even what we consider to be bad memories will be put into perspective so that we understand, appreciate, and even rejoice in them.

Like so many other things in human existence, memory is imperfect. That doesn’t mean it’s unimportant or something to be avoided. Far from it. 

By all means, build memories. Build good memories. Share your memories. Use your memories, good or bad. Learn from your memories. Thank God for your capacity to remember, and for the memories you have. 

God gives us memory as a way of offering hope. As Jeremiah said, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope” (Lamentations 3.21).

“Show Him Your Hands”

My mother was not a theologian. Nor would anyone confuse her for an intellectual. I never remember her reading much. She would read her Bible, and she always worked her Bible class lessons. She looked at various housekeeping and craft magazines. She worked her nightly word search puzzles. But, she was not bookish. 

Mom was a resourceful, talented, and meticulous woman. She took pride in her home, in maintaining and decorating it. She enjoyed gardening, and gave special attention to her rose bushes. She canned vegetables every summer for years. She was an accomplished seamstress and quilter who taught all her daughters (and one son) how to sew. She enjoyed entertaining people, and frequently had large groups of people into her home for meals.

Mom was always neat and well dressed. She kept the house in meticulous order. She had cabinets, closets and shelves in abundance. Every item in the house had its own place. The house was filled with knick-knacks, but there was a neatness and orderliness that was unmistakable. The woman even kept the original box for every small appliance she owned!

One thing I remember about both Mom and her mother, Grandma Carman, was that they were always busy. Neither of them was idle. Both worked hard and long each day of their lives. Even when they sat down, they were often busy with their hands — shelling peas, sewing a hem, or making a shopping list. I don’t know any women who worked harder, and who never complained about their work. Their work was part of their identity.

Shortly after Mom died, Dad related a story about her that greatly resonated with me. Once He and Mom were talking about spiritual matters (probably when all of us children were still young). They turned their attention to heaven, and, in a moment of self-doubt, she asked Dad, “When I meet Jesus, what will I give to him?” Dad’s gentle reply was, “Show him your hands.”

The sage said of the virtuous woman, “She looks for wool and flax, and works with her hands in delight… She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong… She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle… She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy… She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness… Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31.13, 17, 19, 20, 27, 31).

The Lord has seen my mother’s hands.