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ISBN NUMBER 663575727439
PRODUCT Type. Church Supplies
Summary NA
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Full Text of the Tract: 

“Clouds,” I mumbled to myself, staring out the window of the plane.

“Hmm?” Sheryl glanced up from her book.

“Those clouds over there,” I answered.

It was close to dusk and the cloudscape was one of the most gorgeous we had ever seen—deep purples, light pinks, hazy blues, bright oranges: a celestial mountain range arrayed in panorama against the setting sun.

“What do they remind you of?” I asked.

“Mountains,” she said. “Spongy mountains in a million colors.”

“I know,” I answered, eyes still fixed on the view. “You’d almost believe they’d hold you up if you jumped out onto them.”

But they wouldn’t. Beautiful as they were, solid as they seemed, they were just fading mists of vapor—wisps of smoke. Here today, gone tomorrow.

I thought about our life here on earth and what the Bible says about it. “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). I glanced about the cabin of the plane. Flight attendants serving refreshments. Businessmen with their Wall Street Journals. Mothers and babies. Tourists with tennis rackets.

It doesn’t seem like a mist that quickly vanishes, I thought to myself. We really don’t believe it’s all going to end, do we? If God hadn’t told us differently, we’d all think this parade of life would go on forever.

But it will end. This life is not forever.

It’s hard to think about heaven when it seems so far away. Besides, we’ve got to die in order to get there. Who wants to think about that! And so God gives us a little help in getting our minds on the hereafter.

That’s just what God did for me when He sent a broken neck my way. The dark despair which followed wasn’t much fun. But it sure did make what the Bible says about heaven come alive. And there’s not a doubt in my mind that I’ll be fantastically more excited and ready for it than if I were on my feet. You see, suffering gets us ready for heaven.

How does it get us ready? It makes us want to go there. Broken necks, broken arms, broken homes, broken hearts—these things crush our illusions that earth can “keep its promises.” When we come to know that the hopes we cherished will never come true, that our dead loved one is gone from this life forever, that we will never be as pretty, popular, successful, or famous as we had once imagined, it lifts our sights. It moves our eyes from this world, which God knows could never satisfy us anyway, and sets them on the life to come. Heaven becomes our passion.

But suffering does more than make us want to go to heaven. It prepares us to meet God when we get there.

Just think for a moment. Suppose you had never in your life known any physical pain. How could you at all appreciate the scarred hands with which Christ will greet you? What if no one had ever hurt you deeply? How could you adequately express your gratefulness when you approach the throne of the Man of Sorrows who was acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3)? If you had never been embarrassed, if you had never felt ashamed, you could never begin to know just how much He loved you when He took your shameful sins and made them His.

Don’t you see? When we meet Him face-to-face, our suffering will have given us at least a tiny taste of what He went through to purchase our redemption. We will appreciate Him so much more. And our loyalty in those sufferings will give us something to offer Him in return. For what proof could we bring of our love and faithfulness if this life had left us totally unscarred? What shame would we feel if our Christianity had cost us nothing? Suffering prepares us to meet God.

The thing that will make heaven heavenly will be the change God will make inside us. Can you imagine what it will be like to never again have the desire to sin? To never again feel guilty? Or depressed? Or upset? We will know the wonderful harmony of not only being in paradise, but also of having hearts that are able to enjoy it.

When I think of heaven, I think of a time when I will be welcomed home. I remember when I was on my feet what a cozy, wonderful feeling it was to come home after hockey practice. How pleasant to hear the familiar clanging of bells against our back door as I swung it open. Inside awaited the sights, sounds, and smells of warmth and love. Mom would greet me with a wide smile as she dished out food into big bowls ready to be set on the table. I’d throw down my sweatsuit and hockey stick, bound into the den and greet Daddy. He’d turn from his desk, taking off his glasses; then he’d give me a big “hi” and ask me how practice was. For Christians, heaven will be like that. We will see old friends and family who have gone on before us. Our kind, heavenly Father will greet us with open, loving arms. Jesus, our older brother, will be there to welcome us, too. We won’t feel strange or insecure. We will feel like we’re home . . . for we will be home. Jesus said it was a place prepared for us.

We’ll have new bodies and new minds! I myself will be able to run to friends and embrace them for the first time. I will lift my new hands before the hierarchy of heaven—shouting to everyone within earshot, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive blessing and honor. For He freed my soul from the clutches of sin and death, and now He has freed my body as well!”

The wrongs and injustices of earth will be righted. God will measure out our tears which He has kept in His bottle, and not a single one will go unnoticed. He who holds all reason in His hand will give us the key that make sense out of our most senseless sufferings. And that’s only the beginning!

Joni Eareckson Tada was a happy, energetic teenager when she dove into the shallow waters of Chesapeake Bay and broke her neck. Confined to a wheelchair, she has developed her artistic talent, drawing with a pencil held between her teeth. She has also found a deeper relationship with God and a greater understanding of the meaning of God’s love and the promise of heaven. If you would like more information about God, visit Joni’s website at or write to the address below for free Christian literature.

From the book A Step Further by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes, ©1978. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. Artwork entitled Heaven, Your Real Home by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission of JAF Ministries.