Today Facebook suggested I send my friends with birthday's today a special greeting on their special day. It wasn't exactly an unusual request, as I get them on most days. What did strike me a bit oddly was one of the people I was invited to greet, the man in the photo with me, my dear friend Tom.
The picture is from my ordination, three years ago last week. Tom and I go way back to my early days working at the Mayo Clinic. Or more correctly I should say that Tom and I went way back. I saw him one other time after my ordination, later in that same month. At the end of that August we moved to Dulce and the following February he went on to glory. And so the irony of being asked to wish him a happy birthday.
The Bible tells us a bit about those who dwell in eternal life with Christ Jesus, their faithful Savior and Lord, and the nature of life there. But it doesn’t tell us a lot, which, for better or for worse, can allow our imaginations to get carried away with speculation about eternal life.
Do days pass in heaven? Does Tom know that today is his birthday? Would receiving birthday greetings make his day in heaven any better? My answers to those questions are "probably not," "probably not," and "absolutely not."
One of the clearest pictures the Bible gives us of life in heaven is in Revelation 7:9-10, which says,
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"
I've had a pretty good day today. Among things connected with being a pastor I got to read several chapters from Romans, work on Sunday's sermon, and read some Spurgeon. As a parent I read part of The Chronicles of Narnia. As a husband I spent time talking with my wife. And as a friend I was on the receiving end of some pecan bars and chokecherry jam. That is the makings of an outstanding day, and it isn’t even 4 PM as I write this.
An outstanding day, but it doesn't compare with being in the presence of God and singing His praises.
I'd wish Tom a "Happy Birthday!" if I could, but I can't. So instead I'll remember him as he was and look forward to the day when, on God's timing, He will call me home to join the chorus in singing His praises. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.