The hum of mom’s Sunbeam mixer roused me from reading my Donald Duck comic book. It was a Saturday. Mom never baked on Saturday. It took me just five seconds to toss my comic and materialize in the kitchen. She smiled at me and gave me one of the beaters to lick. She took the other. The love for chocolate cake batter was something we shared. But I could not ever recall my mom baking on a Saturday.
Mom could always read my mind so she said with an unusual amount of tenderness, “I am making cup cakes for Reverend Foster’s memorial service. You remember we talked about the day he went to be in heaven?” I did recall the conversation. It had not occurred to me that there would be more to it than the sad prayer my father had made at dinner that night hoping that God would comfort Reverend Foster’s family and everyone in his flock. Amen.
No one actually took me aside and talked about death and how it all works here on earth. But I had heard plenty about heaven. Growing up in a small town, it was the hottest topic in Sunday school. Thinking back on it now, I am not surprised. Many of my teachers and people we fellowshipped with at church had lost loved ones in World War II and the Korean War. One young couple’s child died with his aunt and uncle in a car accident. Heaven was a big thing when I was growing up, because in most towns in America in the sixties there were as many memorial services on a Saturday as there were weddings.
The most classic teaching on heaven was done by Doc Withrow in my fourth grade Sunday School Class. It was from the book of Luke in the Bible. Jesus is talking to a lot of people who want to know what he is all about and he keeps deferring them to parables about this person or that person. Usually one gets the message and meaning of his teaching while the others do not. Doc Withrow always emphasized in his teaching that people could choose to accept a teaching or reject it.
In Jesus’ day many applauded his teachings and came to know him as the son of God, many did not. Beginning in verse 19 in chapter 16 of the book of Luke, Jesus talks about heaven this way: There was a beggar named Lazarus and there was a rich man. They both die. Angels come and take Lazarus to be with Abraham, and as Doc Withrow explained, that means that the Angels took Lazarus to a wonderful place called heaven.
There were many things to learn in this lesson, and, as Doc reminded us, Lazarus would have only been escorted by angels to heaven if he had received Jesus as his savior.
So it became clear to me two things. First, there is a heaven where people who believed God’s promises to save them, are now living. Second, at the moment we take our last breath on earth, Angels come to take us directly to that place where Abraham now lives and that place is heaven. I had already made Jesus the Lord of my life, but if I had not, I know after all this talk about Lazarus and the rich man condemned to hell, I would definitely would have asked God to save me.
“Boys,” Doc continued in his swaggering preacher voice now, “I’m going to be going to heaven soon and I am glad for that. This is what waits me fellas.” He read from John 14:1 – “Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. And trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
It is not hard to know that heaven is a perfect place prepared for those who have put their faith in the loving son of God, Jesus. He came to give us life and life eternal. For now the Kingdom of Heaven is a place where the believers who have passed from this life, now experience a holy, just, true and perfect God face to face. It all happens in a moment.
I did not go to Reverend Foster’s memorial. But I did have two of mom’s cupcakes. To this day cupcakes remind me of heaven, the place where my mom now calls home.