If I were to ask you what you think heaven will be like, what would you say?
That question was asked me by a fellow in our small group meeting just the other night. He then wanted to know what I thought we would be doing with our time there.
His picture of saints in heaven sitting on clouds and strumming hearts just did not sound very exciting or challenging to him at all, and therefore, he said he was not quite sure he wanted to spend every moment for all eternity doing such boring activities.
As we were worshipping during our church time together this past week, that thought returned and I was impressed with the overwhelming thought that our worship here on earth is essentially practice for what those who know Jesus will be doing for all eternity.
In other words, our life here on earth is essentially “the rehearsal hall” for heaven. Everything we do here on earth, no matter what it may be, is, in essence, practicing for eternity.
When you think about how short our sixty, seventy, or eighty years on earth are compared to how long eternity is, our physical life is but a mere tick on the timeless clock called eternity. And our worship there in heaven will be constant!
Some years ago it was my privilege to travel to Moscow, Russia to teach at New Life Bible College for a couple of weeks there. And while I was there, the acting director of the school, a native of Moscow, wanted to take me to the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet.
Before that night, I had never in my life been to a ballet, but this was the Bolshoi! So I eagerly consented to go, and we had a wonderful evening there, sitting in the fourth balcony of that beautifully majestic theater, a work of art in and of itself – and quite surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the ballet, even through an interpreter!
During one of the intermissions, my friends and I were standing out in the hallway just a few feet away from our seats in the theater, when a man approached me and motioned for me to follow him. Our whole group went with him, behind the coat rack area, behind the concession stand area, and we climbed into a small, rather rickety elevator, which took us to the basement area of the theater.
We then got off the elevator, followed our guide down a hallway, past the various members of the orchestra who were standing there relaxing during the break. We then proceeded through a doorway, where we were obviously under the massive stage of the prestigious opera house.
We walked across this room and climbed up a stairway, and there we were, standing for a brief moment on the stage of the Bolshoi Ballet (the curtain was closed!), watching the dancers stretching and rehearsing and limbering up for the next act of the performance.
Following our guide, we then proceeded to the backstage area, where we went into what can only be described as a small coffee shop. We ordered coffee and some snacks and sat down at a table there.
Many of the cast members of the ballet, still in costume, came in and were doing the same thing. As the intermission time was expiring, we retraced our steps and returned to our seats for the remainder of the ballet.
Afterwards, our host explained what had happened: While we were standing in the hallway at intermission time up on the fourth balcony level, he had noticed a former student sitting over in the corner, and had approached him and had begun to talk with this student.
This student, it turns out, had been employed at the Bolshoi for some time as part of the house crew – the ushers and others who were there! During the course of the conversation, our host had explained that he was escorting some visitors from America who had never before been to Moscow or the Bolshoi. This former student had offered to take us backstage to the cast snack bar to get some snacks there, instead of at the normal concession areas of the theater.
So now I can proudly claim that I had coffee during the intermission time with the cast of the Bolshoi Ballet, backstage at the world-famous Bolshoi Theater! Of course, I could not communicate with them, but it was a great experience to see and to be there.
Now being backstage at the Bolshoi Theater could be called a rare and very special occurrence. I guarantee that most of the paying customers in the theater that night did not get the opportunity to do that.
And the reason they did not experience that was not because they were not good people. But it was because they did not know the right people. Going backstage at the Bolshoi occurred for me not due to anything I did that was outstanding or meritorious, but it happened completely because of whom I knew.
If that student had not been working that night, we would never have encountered him and we probably would not have experienced that pleasant and rare opportunity!
Our life here on earth is the rehearsal hall for heaven, but many people will never get to go there – not because they are not good people, but simply because they do not know the right person.
In John 5:24, Jesus said it best: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Getting into heaven is not a matter of how good a life you and I live; it is matter of knowing the Right Person, and trusting in Him completely!
Do you want to get into the throne room of heaven?
The only way is to know the Right Person, to trust Jesus alone!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.