At a high school graduation service at an inner city church, the old African-American preacher began with: “Some day you’re going to die! Some day they are going to put you in a box, take you to the cemetery, put you in the ground, throw dirt on your face, and then they will go back to the church and eat potato salad.”
Six times, I have worn a cap and gown. That is if you count graduating from kindergarten and the ninth grade. In all those ceremonies, I have never heard anyone give that kind of talk. The speakers at my graduations always said that graduation was a beginning in life, not the end of life. Yet, does not it make sense to live with the end in mind, not just tomorrow? The reality is someday we are going to die, but, then what? Is there life after death? When we die do we “graduate” to something, or is it just the end? Can we reasonably believe that one’s death is not one’s expiration day, but one’s graduation day?
I want to share one reason I believe that heaven does exist. There is something in us that desires a life after death, a heaven where there will be justice and peace. Does desiring something make it exist? I might desire that elephants fly, but elephants don’t fly. May Dumbo forgive me!
There are desires that humans have that may not be quite universal, but seem to be quite normal. We hunger for nutrition; there is food to meet that desire. We thirst; there is water to drink. We desire sex; there is sexual activity. With all these normal desires, we have a way for those desires to be met. It seems strange to me that we would desire a life after death in a place of justice and peace, and that there would be no corresponding place like what we call heaven to graduate to.
Another old preacher wrote this: “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he [God] has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end”—Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV)
Could it be that God has really put eternity into our hearts? Could it be that someday we are going to die, and that day will be our graduation day to heaven? And if we can graduate to heaven, can we prepare for that graduation day?