Reserved in Heaven

27 03 2020

Prior to the news that Covid-19 was quickly becoming a global threat, I had begun a fresh look at the Apostle Paul’s letter to believers who gathered in the bustling, idolatrous city of Ephesus.

In recent weeks, the anxiety level of humanity has risen dramatically, and the future is uncertain. As I am observing the “shelter in place” order of our California governor, my soul is encouraged by the unchanging truths written for us in Ephesians. I wonder if we might benefit from considering some of these verses together in coming days.

Writing from a prison cell, the Apostle Paul tells of the limitless greatness of the life we can have in Christ. Confined and deprived on earth, he speaks of heavenly wealth and happiness: 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph.1:3).

This is the first of six references in Ephesians in which Paul mentions the heavenly realms (can you find the other five?). When life on earth is in chaos, the heavens are established as God’s domain. Beyond reach of disease, corruption, and theft, the lavish gifts of God to the believer are safely reserved in heaven.

Within the heavenlies (or “heavenly places”), these blessings are “in Christ,” protected by the power of His name and authority. This is most important, because Christ has been raised above every authority which operates in the heavenly realms (1:20-22).

Today, let’s turn our focus on all that cannot be tainted or threatened by earthly disasters. God has placed all that truly matters into safe keeping for all eternity.

Perhaps over recent days your focus has slipped toward fear or anger. It is extremely difficult to adapt to loss of control and freedom!

But would you join me in re-framing our circumstances and putting Christ back in the center of the frame? Let’s take a hold of His steady hand and walk together today.

You are loved,


Consider praying this simple truth throughout today: 

I have every spiritual blessing,
reserved in heaven for me,
safe in Christ Jesus.
Praise be to God! 

My wife glimpsed heaven

13 11 2015

Fifteen years ago our family of four returned to the USA after serving in Kenya as missionaries for 10 years. Toward the end of our time in Africa, Lyn got very sick, such that we had to get a special approval from the doctor to travel. After the eight hour flight from Nairobi to Gatwick, Lyn was completely spent and I delayed our onward flight to San Francisco by 24 hours to give Lyn a chance to sleep in the airport annex hotel.

During the night, Lyn slept fitfully. When she woke, she shared with me and our daughters that she had experienced a glimpse of a softly lit passageway beyond which she saw warmth, peace and safety. She was so weak and tired that she asked God to go through the door, but He told her it was not time. We were amazed by this, and thankful to God. We continued our journey, making it to SF on a mere thread of life remaining.

There is a lot to share about what God did in the upcoming months, but suffice it to say for now that Lyn was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and for two years fought the cancer with the help of a bone marrow transplant from her sister Cindy.

I give this as a tribute to God’s kindness, for this experience often encouraged us during Lyn’s final fight for life. She was never afraid of what lay beyond death; her only concern was what it would be like to get there! Her vision was also an encouragement to others, as she assured those who were dying or fearful of it, that in the Lord there is only joy in His presence.

I share this also as background for something that happened today. I am currently tending to my mother who seems to be a short while away from going through that portal of glory for herself. As a part of the hospice service, a chaplain contacted me by phone to get acquainted and learn some of mom’s background. I was pleased to tell him that my mother has known Jesus personally since a teen, that she served alongside my dad as a missionary in Japan and Nigeria, that she was a supportive pastor’s wife through all the highs and the lows.

As we began to finish the call, the chaplain, out of the blue, said, “Robert, are you an author?” I replied that I was. He asked if I had spoken at a conference of the Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association some years back. I affirmed that I had. Then he said this: I remember meeting you and your wife. We sat at a dinner table together and your wife shared the story of when you came back from Africa and she got a glimpse of heaven. (Yes, I said, that was us. I mentioned that we had come at the invitation of Jeff Funk, the HCMA president, whom we have known for years; Lyn and his wife Kathy have been dear friends for 40 years.) Then, the chaplain, named Wayne Yee, touched my heart: “I have often shared your wife’s story in my ministry and it has encouraged many, many people.” I hung up the phone and let the tear flow again.

The connections in the family of God are amazing because God is amazing. The threads of encouragement from Lyn’s life continue even now that she is with the Lord she loves.