When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look - I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave." (Revelation 1:12-18, NLT)
Invariably, when I hear about someone losing a loved one (or even one who has such a loss pending), I am transported back to the deaths of my father and brother. The tears come swiftly, and at times I find it hard to speak. This occasion was no different, even though I had never met Louise. I had served briefly with one of her sons on the deacon board and, though he had moved away, he happened to be there that morning when we learned that she had been brought home for hospice care. Given the calendar, I had a single thought - Easter in heaven.
She was reunited with her Savior shortly after that, and this entry began to solidify in my mind. The passage in Revelation pressed on my heart and, in some sort of fulfillment of the Lenten study I have undertaken, thoughts about Heaven came closer to the forefront. If I read this passage correctly, I'm thinking that it must be Easter in Heaven every day. Frankly, that's an almost overwhelming thought, yet it seems to ring so true.
I wonder if our loved ones are at first a little terrified when they see Jesus. John says he was, though he wasn't actually dead at the time. But the powerful image he records and the comforting words that echoed from the throne still embody the message of Easter in such a unique way. Easter is the culmination of the Incarnation and the gateway to our eternal life with God. And there Jesus stands, in all His glory, proclaiming that He is "the Living One" and holding the keys to death and the grave.
If I ever write a story about a true conquering hero, I'm thinking I should use this as a model. Oh, we've seen the images in so many ways. Gandalf's second coming to the Fellowship is as a newly risen white wizard. The Pevensie children are called from one world into the next and anxiously await the arrival of Aslan for their rescue. But even these great tales pale in comparison with the words Jesus spoke to John. There He stood - the Risen One who had conquered death and dying once and for all. Easter was more than just some event on the Christian calendar ... it was and is the reality of Heaven each and every day.
The absolute wonder and bliss of that moment, seeing the Savior face-to-face, must be an amazing thing! And while our journey here on Earth cycles through the seasons and feasts and events that seem to repeat, in Heaven, I think it is truly Easter every day. Because Easter is the symbol of the Empty Tomb and the Risen Lord that says all the Law has been forever satisfied and death no longer has its hold. We stop reverently at the Cross on Good Friday, but Easter is what really draws us forward and holds our attention.
As I travel my own Crooked Path, experiencing what God has in store for me daily, I live in hope of Easter in Heaven. I live in anticipation of Christ saying, "Don't be afraid anymore. I am the One you have been following. I am the embodiment of Easter and death no longer has a grip on you." Alpha and Omega has spoken ... He is risen indeed!
- Where is your heart this Easter season? Is it only a fleeting day in the midst of your difficult life?
- Can you stop just a minute and hear the words John recorded ... "I died, but look - I am alive for ever and ever!" Can you claim those as your own, if even briefly?
- Are you ready to rise above the death that this life brings you and experience the reality of Easter in Heaven - every day? Can you even catch a glimpse of how wonderful that must be?