Two Tickets To Paradise

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

It was never God’s desire that man would die. He created us in His image, created for life and life to the fullest. So, if you find yourself growing more uncomfortable as you see the numbers of deaths rising due to the coronavirus, your thoughts and feelings are completely normal. I have yet to meet a person who enjoys a funeral which only proves the point. When it comes to the topic of death we really don’t know what to think or say often times and we aren’t even sure how to respond. Many people just try avoid the discussion all together. The problem today is, it’s hitting too close to home. This coronavirus has touched every aspect of our society and the topic of death is on everybody’s mind, like it or not.

If you are like me at all, as someone who seeks to follow Jesus you sometimes feel as if you are caught between two worlds. In reality we are! We can easily look back over our lives and recount memories, good or not so good while at the same time we can by faith look forward to a glorious future that awaits us and how things are going to be one day. In the midst of the coronavirus I'm reminding myself that no matter what, the best is yet to be! As I was praying this morning and thanking God for blessing my life in ways that are too innumerable to count an old memory came to my mind seemingly out of nowhere. The year was 1978, I had just graduated from high school and was working full time to pay for my brand new 1978 Chevy Camaro Z28 with a sound system so loud my dog could hear me coming home from about 1/2 a mile away. I remember driving down the road with the wind in my hair because I had my t-tops off when a song came on the radio titled, “Two Tickets To Paradise” by recording artist Eddie Money. It was an instant hit.

I wasn’t even a Christian when the song first came out and yet I can distinctly recall thinking about heaven as the song played. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to die, I’m not ready to pack my bags and leave tonight.” To be perfectly honest with you I don’t particularly want to die today either, I’m not ready to pack my bags so to speak and leave tonight. I still have more living I want to do this side of heaven, I believe there is more work still for me to do. Yet, here is the difference between today and 1978. I understand a little more about the love of God for me. Back then, I was afraid to die because I wasn’t ready spiritually. I knew there were things out of order in my life and I wanted more time you might say, “to clean up my act.” Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought it was my job to get prepared for heaven.

It wasn’t until a number of years after I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord that my fear of death was replaced with the hope of heaven. You see, loved one, it wasn’t until I began to understand that there was nothing I could do about being ready for heaven other than to believe in Jesus Christ and to trust Him for my salvation which is a gift from God Himself. Thats what John 3:16 is all about. I have deserved to go to hell since the day I was born and nothings changed. Even if I had lived a perfect life since receiving Jesus as my Savior (which I have not) I would still be guilty of sinning against God and the wages of sin the Bible says is still death. Only Jesus perfect sacrifice makes heaven possible.

We don’t get to pick how we are going to meet the Lord one day and like many that’s what use to scare me. It was the fear of the unknown, a real fear that if not addressed will keep us from living life to the fullest today. The Bible teaches that before you and I were born God had already numbered our days, meaning He knew full well the day we would be born into this life as well as the exact second we will step through the door from this life into eternity, and finally be home with Him. Worrying about dying Jesus said doesn’t add a single second to our lives.

The point in writing about this today is I know the coronavirus has brought up this topic that is weighing heavy on pretty much all of the minds of much of our worlds population. If it wasn’t we’d all be just going about our business as usual, but we aren’t. Many of us are isolating ourselves not so much for protection sake but for fears sake. My heart today, friend, is if that's you, someone who is isolating themselves out of fear, that you would know you aren't alone and more important, that you would find comfort in the same exact words Jesus used to comfort His disciples who sat with Him around the last supper table. Jesus knew their hearts were heavy and that worry and the fear was controlling their lives. Jesus didnt get mad or frustrated with them, He instead spoke words of comfort.  Jesus spoke these words to them from John’s gospel, chapter 14. Beginning in verse one and going up to verse 6 Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know." Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”


Jesus wanted His followers to know then what He wants you to know today. You aren’t going to meet God face to face a day too soon. When that day comes when the work God has for you here on earth is complete Jesus will come for you. The day you and I meet Jesus will be on the exact day at the exact hour and moment in time that He has chosen, when the place He has prepared for you is ready, He will come for you. There will be no surprise the day we walk through the gates of heaven as heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. That's why Jesus told us not to worry. There is so much we don’t know about life and death that remains a mystery to us and it’s why God has only asked us to trust Him. When the time is perfect and everything is perfect, Jesus will come and carry us home because everything He does is perfect.

Being ready for heaven isn’t about getting our lives straightened before Jesus comes because if the truth be known, all these years later my life is still not worked out. I'm betting you could say the same thing. Like you, I'm just a work in progress. What happened along the way of my own life that took my fear of dying away is I finally began to understood I have a ticket to paradise based on nothing that I have ever done but everything that Jesus Christ has done for me and for you. Like every ticket holder, we are saved by God’s grace through faith and not of works which any man can boast, it is the gift of God. Like you, I don’t know what the future holds but I do know who holds my future and that's what comforts me today as I pray it does you.

So, instead of letting fear grip my heart today thinking about death and dying, I am instead thinking about the words to a song that overwhelm my heart every time I hear it played as it reminds me that God loves me, and that your place and mine in heaven is secure because Jesus purchased our ticket.. The song leaves me thinking, “Who Am I”


Who am I, that the lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
Not because of who I am
But because of what you've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who you are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I'm calling
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling
And you've told me who I am
I am yours
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again?
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?
Not because of who I am
But because of what you've done…

 
Yes, loved one, we have a ticket to paradise awaiting us because of Jesus and what He did for us on Calvary’s Cross by dying so we could live. Don’t worry about your life and how you might go to meet Him one day. Instead see it for what it is, one day He will be come for you. Rest in that, hope in that, trust in Him!


“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

1 John 4:10

I LOVE YOU!

Michael Osthimer

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