“Jo Anne, your mother and two sisters have been in a car accident. One of your sisters is dead.”
I will never forget these words tumbling out of the mouth of my teacher when I was 15 years old. She continued: "We don't know which sister died and your mother may not be alive when you get there." In that moment, horrible words became my reality, bringing separation, devastation, and utter helplessness. Those feelings were all part of the word "alone" for me.
Aloneness crosses every geographical and cultural border. At certain times, we all have been struck by an indescribable sense of aloneness. If we are fortunate to embark on the journey with Jesus, aloneness decreases, but it never totally leaves us in this life. When those close to us die, we sense aloneness more powerfully, and the questions about heaven surface.
I remember being told about heaven when I was a child. Otherworldly characters inhabited the picture. We sang songs with beautiful images of golden streets and pearly gates. Do these pictures really capture the essence of Heaven? It does not seem that mansions or streets of gold speak to the depth of our pain.
However, we are not left there. John writes in Revelation: “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever’” (Rev. 21:3-4 NLT). Heaven, then, is complete healing and life eternal with God. It will bring the end of aloneness. “God himself will be with them.”
When those close to us die, we sense aloneness more powerfully, and the questions about heaven surface.
One sister died; my mother survived. But a miraculous cushion of rest then came around my family. Even today I cannot describe it. I understood prayer and the presence of Christ in a new way even at that young age. Later, when my eyes fell on the words of John in Revelation, I caught a new vision not only of heaven, but also of this life. “And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’” (Rev. 21:5 NLT)
Finally, in heaven we are made new and made whole as God intended for us from the beginning. The empty place in our souls that only God can touch will be completely filled.