But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:16 (NKJV)
Heaven and airports. Arrivals and departures. Terminal illnesses and terminals. I wonder if others have pondered this connection while waiting in an airport terminal for loved ones? If it’s a light day, you can get a seat to watch the action. Otherwise, you may be standing to observe the tearful or joyful embraces.
Last August we put our daughter on a plane from Montana to Guam for her junior year of college. As we said good-bye, and watched others say farewell, there were plenty of tears (from others, not our brave daughter, of course). It seems that airports and funerals are two places it’s okay to show love and grief. Why do we display more emotions at these times than we do when sending someone off to work or school each morning?
If we knew it was the last good-bye, would we hold our friends and family closer when we depart? My testimony begins with a plane crash, and I never got to say good-bye to those on board. It was my college cross country team returning from the national meet. My two coaches, three team mates, the athletic trainer and pilot all died that icy November day in 1985. While their plane lay shattered in Des Moines, Iowa, the plane of my life continued to spiral downward as I questioned how God could let this happen. Two years later I gave my life to Jesus Christ, and I soared for Him again.
One of the many joys of being a Christian is knowing I will always see other Christians again. If I don’t see them here on earth, I will have eternity to visit with them in heaven. We live at a church camp where there are good-byes every week of the summer. Volunteers serve and become our friends, and then they depart. I am thankful that we will get to see these folks again in heaven. Perhaps Jesus will line up some of these great workers to help prepare houses for more people coming to heaven!
Four months after we put our daughter on that plane for Guam, we found ourselves at the airport again on a frigid December day. As we eagerly waited for our daughter’s return, I watched couples and families reunite. I thought of heaven and how loved ones will welcome us. Hugs, tears, slaps on the back, ruffling hair…all these say, “I love you!” I imagine our relatives there will be delighted when we finally reach heaven.
Our daughter, however, did not arrive on schedule. She was not on the one o’clock flight from Denver, or the two o’clock, or the three o’clock. With no cell phone, we didn’t know where she was or when she would land. A desk attendant said she wouldn’t arrive until the next day. I felt like crying. We waited for the four o’clock flight anyway, and guess what, at just a little before five o’clock our daughter appeared! After checking the faces of every blond girl that afternoon, we finally saw the face of our daughter!
I wondered if that could happen in heaven? Will we be dismayed when our loved ones don’t show up? God says He’ll wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more sorrow. So, will I be somber if my brother doesn’t pull in? I think there will be an empty spot in my heart, because Jesus desires that none should perish. While I’m still on earth, I’d better make sure my family knows they are invited, that they know Jesus and His salvation. I may be distressed when my family members depart from this earth, but I’ll be delighted when all my loved ones arrive in heaven, even if it is a day late.
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1 (NKJV)