by Tom Wacaster
This week’s “pen” has been some time in developing, as you might conclude from the title and gist of the article. It has been more than a year since the famous "Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray during a diving expedition off the coast of Australia. Though I was no big fan of Mr. Irwin, I did have an occasion to watch his program from time to time, or to catch an interview by some well known celebrity. With his trademark khaki shorts, chirpy manner and an obvious love of wildlife, Steve Irwin was known to television viewers around the world simply as "the crocodile hunter." As with the death of any well known celebrity, the world mourned the loss and sought to speak well of the deceased. Mr. Irwin has been called "a genuine conservationist," "a lover of animals," and the "champion of animal rights" in Australia, and around the world. One news commentator made the remark that the "Crocodile Hunter" has gone to that great "Crocodile reserve in the sky." Of course we are all aware that there is no such place as some "Crocodile reserve in the sky," or "happy hunting land" where "seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day."
But the Bible does speak of a place called "heaven," "Abraham's bossom," and the "New Jerusalem." It is a place of "no death," "no tears," and "no sorrow." Absent will be “the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murders, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars.” That wonderful home of the soul will never be tainted by the temptations from the evil one, nor will it be invaded by death’s dark shadow. It is a prepared place for a prepared people, whose priorities were focused upon the eternal rather than the temporal. It is a city four-square, whose walls are made of jasper, and the city itself like unto pure glass. Twelve gates will usher the saints of every generation into that celestial city, accompanied by angels, and welcomed by the Father. In the midst of the city we will find the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of fruits – adequate provisions for those who have hungered after righteousness. A river will flow from the throne of God, quenching our spiritual thirst. That river will not be muddy, nor will it be polluted by the ravages of time and the filth of sin. Instead it will be bright as crystal, with a purity beyond our wildest imagination. In the midst of the city we will find our Father, sitting upon the throne. At His side will be the Lord, in all His glory and majesty – and we will be permitted to look upon the face of the Lamb who redeemed us, and the Father who loves us.
John’s description of that heavenly Jerusalem tickles our imagination and stirs our hearts. Oh, how beautiful heaven must be! No wonder Paul encouraged us to endure the trials and tribulations that might come our way: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward…Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory” (Rom. 8:18, 2 Cor. 4:16-17). I do not know who wrote this poem, but it expresses the same sentiment as the inspired apostle:
The Tapestry of Life
Tis said that old Time is a shuttle,
Swift weaving the web of our days;
In and out fly the fast speeding moments
Thro' the warp and the wool of earth's maze.
At times all the colors seem sombre,
Again there are dashes of bright;
Anon all life's threads knot and tangle,
And only defects meet our sight.
Full often we stand and in wonder
We gaze at the unresting loom,
Which hides the design of the fabric
Until we have reached the dark tomb.
Only this do we know that the groundwork,
Thro' which the bright colors are twined,
Is woven of charity's fibers,
Which serve the threads closely to bind.
And when the last thread has been broken,
And the loom is forever at rest,
We shall see that our life's great Designer
Knew what for His children was best.
If all a person can envision in that final abode of the soul is some “Crocodile reserve in the sky,” his concept of heaven is warped, to say the least. Whether it be the Muslim who envisions some harem with sensual pleasures for all eternity, or the Mormons with their eternal celestial marriages, the simple truth is, there will be none of that in heaven. And no Virginia - there are no Crocodiles in Heaven!