Yesterday Marlene and I ate breakfast with two women who are attending the Retirees Conference at Cannon Beach. One woman said she now lived in Oregon but she was really from California but shortly after World War II, she and her husband had lived for a few years in Michigan because it was her husband’s home state, but she didn’t feel at home there, partly because of the weather, I think, and maybe also because it wasn’t like California. All of that came out in answer to one question, “Where are you from?” She proceeded to tell us about her husband who must have been a good man. After he went to be with the Lord ten or so years ago, she felt like she didn’t want go out any more. They did everything together, had a happy life, raised their children, survived the normal ups and downs of life, and she missed him greatly after he was gone. “It was my friend here,” she gestured to the other woman at the table, “who got me going again. She kept encouraging me not to stay at home but to get out and enjoy life. And she’s the reason I came to this conference."
During our conversation she said, “I don’t want to live to be 90.” “But what if you were still healthy when you were 90?” No, she said, she didn’t want to be 90. She’s looking forward to heaven.
"I want to see my husband—and Jesus."
Then she looked embarrassed, as if she had said something wrong. But what could be wrong about wanting to see your loved ones again? “If he is with Jesus,” I began to say. “And he is,” she replied. “Then wherever Jesus is, that’s where he will be. And when you see your husband, you will see Jesus too."
Jesus is the glory of heaven. And heaven is wherever he is. Remember what Jesus said to the thief on the cross “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). We can argue over the details, but the central meaning is perfectly clear. Going to heaven means that we are with him forever. Absent from the body, present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). The day is coming when the dead in Christ will rise, the living saints will be taken up from the earth, and together with them, we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
I told that dear lady that she need not feel embarrassed about wanting to see her husband. Of course she does. She honors her husband by remembering him after he is gone. If I go to heaven first, I would like to remembered like that.
When she sees her husband again in that glad reunion day, she will see Jesus too. It all works out for the children of God. All we have to do is hold on, keep believing, and never give up. Better days are coming. Death will not have the last word. Regarding our loved ones who die in the Lord, they are with him right now, and when we finally see them again, we will see him.
All will be well.
And we will never say goodbye again.
Come, Lord Jesus.