Yes, you read the title of this post properly. I’ve decided I’m going to quit trying to go to heaven and I urge you to do the same. This has been a bit of a process for me. I’ve been struggling with this concept of going to heaven for a while now, but I’ve finally come to a conclusion.
I can’t do it, so why bother. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get myself to heaven. I can assemble with the saints every time the doors are open. I can give all my money into the collection and anything that is left over to the poor. I can sing all the songs as beautifully and meaningfully as possible. I can avoid big sins like adultery, murder, homosexuality. I can work on the sins I’ve struggled with like lust, angry outbursts, materialism. I can teach a person the gospel every day. I can build a huge tower reaching up to the heavens. It doesn’t matter. I can’t get myself to heaven. In fact, when I do all of that, it seems more like I’m just trying to make a name for myself.
So, I’ve decided to quit trying. I’m giving up on trying to go to heaven. If I go to heaven, it will be because God decided to take me there. I’ll leave my eternal destiny up to His decision. I’m no longer going to try to manipulate His decision.
Instead, today I’m going to work on connecting to God, getting closer to Him, and glorifying Him. Why would I do anything else? This is the God who created a world perfectly suited for me to live. This is the God who gave me life and a body (and the more I learn about this body, the more amazed I am at God’s wisdom and majesty). This is the God who has given me food every day of my life. This is the God who has clothed me. This is the God who has provided me shelter. This is the God who has given me family and friends. More than all of this, however, this is the God who sent His Son to die for me that I could be forgiven of the horrendous sins I’ve committed. This is the God who sacrificed His Son not only so I could be forgiven, but so I could be set free from the enslavement of my sins. This is the God who is sanctifying me and making me righteous because I hunger and thirst for that. How could I do anything but get connect, get closer, and glorify Him? I love Him. How could I not? Look at how He has loved me.
On a practical level, here are ten things this means for me today.
- I’ll walk in God’s presence. I know that sounds kind of ethereal, but it actually means something very practical to me. I’m going to work on constantly remembering God is with me. While that means I’ll have a specified time of prayer, it also means I’ll strive to carry on a conversation with the God who is right beside me holding me up all the way. As victories occur, I’ll thank Him. As struggles arise, I’ll retreat into Him. As the need for decisions arise, I’ll petition His wisdom. As I pursue the ways today lays before me, I’ll acknowledge God for His power and providence in my life. As I walk through my day, I’ll talk to Him.
- I’ll abide in God’s word. Again, that sounds ethereal but means something very practical for me. It means first of all that I’ll spend time in God’s word. I’ll read it. But more than that, I’ll give attention to what I’ve read; I’ll think about and meditate on what I’ve read. I’ll strive to pick at least one thing out of what I’ve read with which to examine myself and see if I’m in the faith because I’m living what God said. I’ll hide God’s word in my heart. I’ll study deeply to understand God’s will and know God’s mind. Is there any better way to get to know God than get deeply involved in what He is saying to me?
- I’ll love my wife as Christ loves the church. Gary Thomas’s Sacred Marriage (be careful, if you click that link, it will take you to Amazon.com and if you purchase something while there, you will be helping me out financially) helped me grasp Ephesians 5:22-33 on a deeper level. I’ve learned that nothing will help me become like Christ more than my relationship with Marita. Therefore, nothing can glorify God more than how I approach that relationship. When I love Marita as Jesus loved the church, I proclaim for the world His love. So, I’ll talk to her with love, not disrespectful judgment. I’ll make thoughtful requests, not selfish demands. I’ll bring peace to our relationship, not angry outbursts. I’ll fulfill her needs by the grace and strength of God.
- I’ll love my children and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. How I treat my children today demonstrates to the world what I think about God and what kind of Father He is. No doubt, it teaches my children how to view God. Let’s face it, if nothing else, it teaches my children how to view God. There is little else I can do to glorify God more than to strive to father as He does.
- I’ll resist the devil. James 4:7-8 demonstrates that resisting the devil goes hand in hand with drawing near to God. Based on my understanding of God’s will, I’ll resist the traps of the tempter, trusting in God’s way of escape and His grace and strength to see me through the battle.
- I’ll talk to others about God’s things. I’m doing it now through this blog. With my friends and family, while we may talk about the weather, we may talk about sports, we may talk about politics, I will make sure to make God’s things part of my conversation. I may talk about what I’ve studied in God’s word today. I may talk about God’s blessing in my life. I may talk about the gospel’s power to save to someone who is lost. I may talk about my decision to quit trying to go to heaven and just striving to connect to God.
- I’ll praise God. Perhaps this is just an extension of walking in God’s presence. But while typing this I looked out the window and saw three or four different kinds of birds. It just amazes me the intricacy and detail with which God has created our world. I want to praise Him for the red birds, blue birds, yellow birds, and black birds I’ve seen. I want to praise Him for the trees in my yard. I want to praise Him for the rain that continues the cycle of life. I want to praise Him for the seasons that are turning the leaves into hues of orange, yellow, gold, vermillion. I want to praise God for the coffee beans that have been roasted, ground up, and brewed and are now sitting next to my computer warming and refreshing me. I want to praise God for giving me the brethren with whom I ate on Saturday and Sunday, the friends and family with whom I played games over the weekend. I need to stop the list now or this point alone will dominate the post. I think you get the picture.
- I’ll serve others. I can’t help but think of the song “Make Me A Servant.” “Make me a servant, just like Your Son. For He was a servant. Please make me one.” If I get outside myself, sacrificing myself for others, I become more like God. What a glory that points toward Him, especially as I point others to Him as the motivation for my service. Of course, that will only be when they find out that I’m the one serving. To give God the glory, I’ll strive to keep the right hand from knowing what the left is doing. I won’t be out for credit. I’ll be serving because that in itself is a reward.
- I’ll spend time with God’s family. I can say this easily today because my family has been invited to another family’s house to have supper. While this may not be something I can do every day, it is something I’ll work on. After all, if I want to draw near to God, one of the best ways to do it is to draw near to God’s children.
- I’ll attend tonight’s assembly of the Franklin Church. This is obviously a very practical one for me today. It just so happened that I’ve made the decision to quit trying to go to heaven during the week the congregation I’m part of is having a special series on “Connecting and Conquering.” However, tonight, I’m not going to go because there is some rule about attending. Tonight, I’m not going to go because I’m the preacher and have to. Tonight, I’m not going to attend because the speaker is one of my best friends. Tonight, I’m going to attend because what could draw me closer to God and glorify Him more than meeting with other Christians to edify each other, praise God, and learn from His word as one of His children shares the fruit of his study of God’s word?
I could go on, but I hope you get the point. Today, I’m going to put my eternal destiny in God’s hands. I’ll let Him decide what to do with me for eternity. I’m no longer trying to manipulate Him, impress Him, or earn anything from Him. Today, I just want to get close to Him. I hope as I spend time with Him, I’ll see you hanging around with us.