Monday, July 11, 2011

Closer to Heaven....

~ Amanda K. Leonard

     If there is one thing I've learned from my health struggles, it is that this world is tough. So why wouldn't I want to be in heaven with God? If this life is so painful, then why would I want to spend an eternity in hell, where there is no relief or balm or pain medicine that can soothe even for one second?! Sometimes I am amazed at people's lack of fear and dread when it comes to hell. If you think the stomach flu is miserable, think about an eternity of endless misery! Okay, maybe that's not bad enough for you. If you think diseases like multiple schlerosis, or lupus, or cancer are horrible illnesses that give people so much pain and misery and are sometimes disabeling, then think about an ETERNITY with UNQUENCHIBLE FIRE! (Revelation 21:8, Matthew 18:8) The rich man in torments simply wanted Lazarus to "dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." (Luke 16:19-31, emphasis added)

     There is no end to hell. But, there is also no end to heaven (John 3:16). Sometimes I feel I have something in common with Paul when he talks about the "thorn in his flesh" and asking God to remove it. We don't ever know of God taking that burden away from him. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) But we do know that he was pressing "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) On the one hand, in moments of weakness, I struggle with the "why me's?" and I often say the same prayers as Paul; simply requesting that God take away my pain and suffering. But, on the other hand, sometimes I think maybe God is allowing this because it will keep me focused on Heaven and it will keep me faithful and strong. (2 Corinthians 12:12:9-10) But this I can know for sure; that my Heavenly Father loves me and will give me the strength that I need to get through each difficult morning, to smile with my children, and to continue to teach them His Holy Word as long as I serve Him and only Him. "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon (serve) the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:30-31) Teach me, Lord, to wait upon thee!

NOTE: The reader should know that this is especially poignant article since Amanda, although not yet 30, suffers from several serious illnesses, but is well known for her enouraging attitude and positive outlook on life.

Amanda K. Leonard is married to Josh Leonard and the mother of two, a homemaker, homeschool teacher, worships with the Chipman Road church of Christ in Lee's Summit, Mo and LOVES teaching her 0-2 year old Bible class.

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