Once as I was outside grilling meat for supper my then four-year-old daughter approached me with a question. She asked, “Is there a special way to get to heaven?” I do not suggest that I have unlocked the mysteries of the four-year-old female mind, but I do think I know what she was asking. I think she was wondering if there is a shortcut to heaven—like the quick route we take to get from our Cameron home to
. She saw heaven as real place like I do and she reasoned that real places have real roads that lead to them. It is also an indication to me that the seeds of the gospel have been planted in this little one. St. Paul
I decided I would rather have her learn something out of the question rather than giving her a trite, fit-for-Sunday-School answer. So I asked her, “What is heaven?” This took the conversation deeper than she had intended, but it is a good question for all of us. The answer is that heaven is the place God lives. The question it prompts is: “How can any of us go there?
If your answer is, “Ask Jesus into your heart,” you have not sufficiently understood the question. This is not about you finding some secret code or reciting the right mantra to spring you into a pleasant afterlife. You are as unfit for that holy place as you are for the heart of an active volcano. What is more, you have the here and now to worry about. What keeps you from facing judgment as these words reach you right now?
If you lack something pertaining to getting to heaven it is not spiritual formulas or prayers to recite. Those are available in abundance. Just read the last page of gospel tracts and you will find sample prayers. The problem is that God is so glorious and we are so sinful. I explained to
that the trouble with finding the way to heaven is that we can’t go there as we are now. We are not fit. Lydia
But that is not the end of the lesson. I do not know if she followed all of the conversation after that and, honestly, I do not mind. By God’s grace, when the new birth comes, we make sense of all the information we have collected and not comprehended in the past. What I want those under my charge to understand is that, like a firefighter cannot walk into a burning building wearing street clothes, we cannot walk into the presence of the thrice holy God wearing fig leaves. We need a covering.Like you learn from the story of Adam and Eve, the only sufficient covering for sinners that permits survival before the gaze of God requires the death of a substitute.