A Heavenly Mind
By Alf Cengia
Centuries ago I bought a nice house in a quiet little street in an inner-city suburb. It was a haven nestled away from the outside hustle and bustle of the larger city.
Although small, it was big enough to house me, my widowed mother, my brother and his new bride. The secluded back yard was large enough to contain an enormous peppercorn willow tree, a shed, and a little vegetable garden. Oh! – and a German Shepherd dog.
I loved the fact that a half a mile away up the hill, you could find fashionable wine bars and restaurants. There was a convenient shopping mall around the corner. Even a beautiful wetlands walking park complete with the appropriate native fauna and wildlife.
In fact I hardly ever availed myself to those restaurants and bars. All the years I lived there, I think I only walked that park a handful of times. Still, it was a highly desirable area. I just liked boasting that I lived there.
We all lived in that same little house, yet occupied different worlds. My brother and his wife were busy planning their lives. I had my job, my beloved gymnasium and friends to occupy time. While I had the odd “spiritual” inclinations, my life was largely governed by more earthy pursuits.
My mother lived a different lifestyle. She found good friends in that street. Looking back at it now I’m convinced that God’s providence brought us to that house. Not only did it immediately benefit my mother with fellowship, but the move eventually had lessons for me.
This good fellowship mainly comprised of widows and two sets of spinster sisters. The sister of each spinster had a debilitating disease which needed constant care. The lives of the healthier sisters revolved around caring for their sick siblings.
A common thread running through this fellowship was a love of Christ and spirit of service. Every Saturday night one of the spinsters would pick up the ladies and drive them to church. As this fellowship grew, it often became my lot to drive the ladies.
I resented this intrusion. As if a single man didn’t have better things to do on a Saturday night than to drive old ladies to church! My mother’s extended updates of the trials and tribulations of her friends often infringed on my winding down process after a day at the office. One could only care so much.
While I was busy pursuing my world, she spent hours praying for her family and friends. It was only years later, when God caught up with me, that I slowly got a clue.
The inner core of that sisterly fellowship was heavenly minded. They prayed for each other and looked forward to heaven. My mother’s example is a testimony to this. Even as she lay in her hospital bed waiting for death, she concerned herself with her two sons’ faith in the Lord. She often mentioned the Lord to the nurses and the other patients, and how she looked forward to go to Him.
When I said goodbye, we both knew it would be the last time I’d see her in this world, as I had to fly back home to my family. She smiled approval when I told her we’d see each other again in heaven.
There was one other relative visiting mother that day. We didn’t know that this would also be the last time we’d see each other. He was a younger man; yet some time later his liver gave up. The awful truth is he died in denial that death would overtake him. Worse, he wasn’t looking forward to heaven. What a tragedy.
I guess it’s partly a function of getting older that I think more about heaven these day. However, I’d like to think it is also a result of God’s patient work with me.
It’s no coincidence that Christians, who have a love for Christ, long for heaven. When I read Spurgeon and other Puritan writers I constantly come across the themes of heaven and desire to be with the Lord. Spurgeon once told his congregation:
“My beloved friends, I can assure you, it is always one of the sweetest thoughts I ever know, that I shall meet with you in heaven.”
As he was pondering the nearness of his own death, Andrew Bonar wrote:
“Yesterday and today I have had some glimpses within the veil, as if to prepare me for what may soon come. It is very solemn to find myself near the threshold of Eternity, my ministry nearly done, and my long life coming to its close. Never was Christ to me more precious than He is now.” ~ Diary and Life
This same sentiment was shared by his friend Robert Murray M’Cheyne and all the great preachers of the gospel. Courage and joy were derived from being heavenly minded and their desire for Christ. We should look to their examples.
Christians have been begotten as heirs and children into a heavenly household – sons and daughters of God. We have an incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven, not earned by our own deeds, but through our faith in Jesus Christ and His resurrection. This is what gives us joy and strength to endure all tribulations. Not our own strength, but God’s faithfulness to His glorious promises (Psalm 16:5-6; Rom 8:16-18; Eph 2:19; 1 Pet 1:3-9).
Think about this: whenever we read accounts of visions of the glory of God (or angels) in the Bible, they are met with a sense of unworthiness, fear and trembling on the part of those who experience them. See for example Isaiah 6:5; Ezekiel 1:28; Dan 10:7-8 and Rev 1:17.
In contrast to this we’re told by the Apostle John that when Christ appears, we will be like Him because we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). What an awesome thought!
Through all their trials and tribulations, my mother and the ladies I mentioned earlier kept their hopes in heaven. Now they’ve all gone on to be with their Lord, and I look forward to seeing them again one day.
As for now, the world has never been Christian-friendly – yet it seems that as time progresses we’re rapidly heading into uncharted territory. Now, more than ever, we all need to constantly remind ourselves of our heavenly heritage.
Do you have a heavenly mind?