“Life is hard – but God is good, and heaven is real” – Billy Graham. Heaven is as real as life is hard.
Isn’t it possible that God might allow eyewitnesses of heaven? Rev. Graham was at the bedside of the famed preacher, R. G. Lee, who was in and out of consciousness as he lay dying at his home in Memphis. In a moment of sudden awareness he looked at Rev. Graham and said, “I saw heaven. I saw Jesus. I saw my mother. I never did justice to heaven in my sermons.” Rev. Graham said his own mother experienced a glimpse of heaven just before she died.
I was once alone in the hospital room with a dying man. But for the monitoring devices he appeared to be gone. Suddenly, he raised his hand and repeated in an awestruck voice, “Praise You Jesus!” He had seen something amazing. After a few respectful moments I asked what he saw, but he never acknowledged my presence.
These apparent eyewitness accounts are not without precedent. Stephen, just before he became the first Christian martyr, “gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).
Someone once asked Rev. Graham if such an eyewitness experience could be real. He answered, “It’s not a hallucination or chemical reaction in the brain (as some suggest). I am convinced it is instead a God-given glimpse into eternity. Through it, God is reminding those who are present—and us as well—that eternity is real, and Christ is waiting to welcome us into Heaven. He alone is our hope, because by His death on the cross He paid the price for our sins, and by His resurrection from the dead He conquered death and hell and Satan.”
The Bible is certain about an afterlife. In what is probably the oldest book in the Bible, and after all of the woes he endured Job said, “After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:26). The Psalmist declared, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psa. 23:6). Before he raised Lazarus back to life Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25). Jesus made heaven the future home for those who believe.
This has a real impact on how you face life and death. On his deathbed John Newton (“Amazing Grace”) said, “I am still in the land of the dying, but soon, I shall be in the land of the living!” Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s final words were, “This is the end – for me the beginning of life.” These men understood that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20) and it is real. Do you?