I remember when I was in Officer Candidate School, I had a little gold bar pinned inside my hat. A Lieutenant who had graduated from the course recommended I do this as a reminder of why I was there, because graduating, he insisted, would require a significant emotional and physical investment. It seemed that someone had given him that same advice. He told me every time I felt like giving up, I should take off the hat, wipe the sweat from my brow, look at that piece of gold, and remember the prize for which I was so desperately striving.
Well, that was 23 years ago, Iíve carried forth that bit of wisdom into my Christian walk. My gold bar is my Bible and it is filled with Godís promises, many of which describe the prize that awaits his faithful followers in Heaven when weíve completed this journey here on Earth.
Itís amazing how reflecting on that little gold bar helped me endure the yelling and screaming, the sleepless nights, the grueling workouts and the harsh treatment by our instructors. Much like Satan, they tried to get me to quit.
When I looked at that gold, I imagined the honor and prestige that would accompany my successful graduation. I dreamt of what it would be like when I had achieved my goal. It would be the fulfillment of my young lifeís dream.
As I presently endure this often hostile world, I canít help but imagine what it will be like when I get to Heaven. I ponder the words of our Lord in 1st Corinthians 2:9 (NIV) - Ö ďNo eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.Ē
I can imagine a lot, but it gives me even greater hope to realize that in all my imagination, it will still fall short. So take a moment to imagine with me as I describe my first century in Heaven.
When I get there, surely Iíll fall to my knees with the biggest grin you ever saw. I donít imagine Iíll even say a word. I want to take it all in for awhile, maybe a month, maybe a year. It wonít matter because I fought the good fight and finished the race. I want to soak it all in. Of course I recognize that Iíll be greeted by my Savior, and I look forward to that meeting, but if it were up to me, Iíd want to build up to that moment, for it will surely be the most spectacular of all events. I wonít even mind waiting in line because Iíll know I have time.
When I do see him, Iíll be reminded of the blind man who received his sight and I too will have much to thank him for. I imagine getting my own time with Him and walking along the path of the garden the way it was always intended to be.
Iíll marvel at watching the faces of my fellow travelers and look forward to meeting the great apostles, kings and prophets. Iíll rejoice in seeing my wife and kids and friends and family in their glorified state. I imagine seeing my perfected mother whose last earthly condition was one of twisted agony from the cancer that slowly swallowed her up. The joy of knowing Iíll have all the time in the world to spend with them.
I canít imagine the Creator God will ever stop creating and perhaps we will all be allowed to participate. Perhaps this beautiful universe He created will be our playground. Perhaps we will get to create too. Perhaps I will work in a job that will be a perfect fit for me, but there will be plenty of time for that.
What I really want to do in my first hundred years is catch up with all those Iíve know and loved. Weíll sit on the great sweeping front porch of my new home in the beauty of a new Heaven and new Earth and swap stories of great faith and endurance. Weíll tell how our Savior saved our souls and weíll sing in perfect harmony with a choir of angels. Weíll have time.
I will be home, and much greater than the day I graduated from Officer Candidate School as a Second Lieutenant, I will have graduated this present world and stepped into my first century of eternity.