Dear friends of Vital Signs Ministries, April 2021
Sing the wondrous love of Jesus;
Sing His mercy and His grace.
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place.
Chorus: When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory.
While we walk the pilgrim pathway
Clouds will overspread the sky.
But when travelin’ days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.
Onward to the prize before us.
Soon His beauty we’ll behold.
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.
What a comforting, joyful, exhilarating prospect this song presents! And it makes a most appropriate opening to this month’s letter for though we are certainly walking “pilgrim pathways” these days with “clouds” of lawlessness, lies, and the lunacy of the cancel culture all around us, reminders of our coming redemption are of the utmost value.
Indeed, Claire and I have been richly blessed these past few days by yet another re-read of Randy Alcorn’s exceptional book, Heaven, as we prepare to host a few friends at an upcoming Saturday morning brunch to discuss the book. We are looking forward to that very much although, to be quite candid, heaven is a pretty constant theme of our conversations, our prayers, and our longings nowadays. And that’s why I thought I’d open this letter with the lyrics of this great old hymn.
“When We All Get to Heaven” was written in 1898 by Eliza Hewitt, a teacher and poet from Philadelphia whose life, though deeply affected by pain caused from a spinal injury, was a profound blessing to family, friends, and the untold numbers of Christians around the world who glorified God by singing such hymns as “More About Jesus, “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place,” “There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today,” “Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus,” and “When We All Get to Heaven.” I myself have been encouraged by many of these songs (most of which were set to the music of Mrs. Emily Wilson) and I am looking forward to meeting these faithful saints in what undoubtedly will not be all that far away!
But what was it about the song that so sparked my imagination when I recently heard it in my search for music videos for our Sunday afternoon church services at Aksarben Village Senior Living? Well, several things actually:
1) The fact that the only way I can be allowed into God’s holy heaven in the first place is the “wondrous love” of Jesus that is hailed at the very beginning of the hymn. Jesus demonstrated that love through “His mercy and His grace” as He endured the cross to pay the penalty of my sin. Thank You, Lord.
2) Jesus is preparing for His people a place amid His heavenly mansions — a place that will be free of any stain of sin or rebellion. Instead, there will be purity, peace, righteousness, happiness, and a complete harmony between the believer and himself, with all the saints, with all of redeemed creation, and with the Triune God.
3) No wonder we will be rejoicing! No wonder we will sing and shout victory when finally we see our Savior face to face. No more sighing. No sorrow or shame. No excuses or promises to try harder. Oh yes; the redemption that Jesus purchased with His death will be seen in our glorified bodies and our undivided hearts.
4) That “day of rejoicing” will, of course, be a never-ending one. And though I have no doubt we will have adventures aplenty on the New Earth where God will dwell with men, the “travelin’ days” on this fallen planet where we are beset with continual temptations from the world, our own flesh, and the devil will be forever over.
5) And finally, I love the line from the final stanza: “Onward to the prize before us” for that phrase underscores both the glories that will be awarded us by our gracious, lavishly generous God and the charge to actively pursue our sanctification until that upward call comes. And, as we relish the reality of those prizes, we find renewed and deepened resolve to endure the tests presently before us.
Today the clouds and sighs. But tomorrow the unveiled face of the Lord, the mansion, the shouts of victory, the prize, the oh-so-real-glories of heaven! That is absolutely wonderful news!
Okay, I think I’ll go ahead and close this letter but not without the reminder that you can keep closer track of what Vital Signs Ministries is doing day to day by checking in with Vital Signs Blog, our Facebook pages, the Vital Signs Ministries website, and even Vital Signs YouTube page where, among other items, you can watch the 15-minute Bible lessons that are now part of our newest outreach; that is, the Sunday afternoon church services I mentioned earlier. Until next month…