Labour and Heaven
Written by Andy Willshire
It’s a strange feeling waiting for a baby to be born. Anticipation, excitement, nerves, thankfulness, wonder. Knowing that any day you might rush off to the hospital to welcome a new creation into the world, but at the same time knowing your wife will have to go through pain to make it happen.
Being a dad is the best thing I have ever done and ever will do – so waiting for number two is exciting. But I also don’t want to see my wife experience pain. In fact I would do anything to avoid her feeling pain. Feeling like this every day, not knowing when it might happen, being tugged from emotions of excitement and wonder to fear and unease, isn’t overly pleasant. I can’t wait to bring our baby home.
It got me thinking about the Christian life; perhaps the feelings I feel about birth are similar to how we are meant to feel as Christians. I’m pretty comfortable in this life. I’ve been challenged - how do I feel about going to be with Jesus in heaven now? Truth be told, I don’t want to die yet. I’m relatively young and Liverpool have just won the league – times are good!
Jesus actually talks about labour pains and the joy that is to come with his disciples. We read in John chapter 16 v 21-22:
21A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
I’ve been challenged because the bible doesn’t call us to be comfortable in this life, to enjoy it so much that we don’t want to think about pain or death, even if this means being with Jesus. Some bible verse to back this up:
Phillipians 1 v 21 “To live is Christ, and to die is gain”.
Matthew 6 v 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal”.
Hebrews 13 v 14 “ For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come”
Phillipians 3 v 20 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ”.
In my current situation, I am excited about the after birth part. Hugging the baby, getting home and getting comfortable. I (and my wife) am not looking forward to the labour part. But of course we have to go through this to experience the wonder of hugging a new born baby.
As Christians, we like to idea of heaven, but don’t like to think about the death part – not until we’re 95 maybe. So we get comfortable here on earth. We don’t meditate on being with Jesus in heaven, but deepen our roots into worldly culture. We plunge our resources into making this life better for the next 40/50 years on earth and push back the thought of death. We make our ‘passing through’ in this world as comfortable, risk free and enjoyable as we can. We’d be naïve as Christians to say we don’t do this, at least some of the time.
I’m not saying this is all wrong. But what I have learnt in waiting for the baby to be born is that as Christians, we are hard wired to live with a persistent unease about this life, a longing to be with Jesus for eternity. We are not home until we look Jesus in the eyes. We are foreigners until we go home. We are called in this life to make a difference for Jesus, to bring glory to Him and live every breath for His cause. When we lose the unease of not being home, perhaps we have become so comfortable in this foreign land, that we prioritise comfort over seeing Jesus face to face.
We’re called to live with an excitement that we will live with Jesus for all eternity – nothing compares to this. We cannot fathom what Jesus has planned for us. So we must focus our lives on this – on what lies ahead. Our minds should be focused on living life here and now for His glory and knowing that what is to come is truly better. We are called to live life sold out for Jesus now, longing to meet Him; believing that to see Jesus face to face is gain. Let’s not become more excitable about the things of this world, compared to worshipping Jesus for eternity, even though this means facing death at some point.
I know that seeing our baby face to face will be gain. Seeing Jesus face to face will be like nothing else. Let’s set our minds on the things of heaven, not this earth, and remember that death has no hold on those who have put their trust in Jesus:
1 Corinthians 15 v 55 “Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?”