PHOTO CAPTION: My granddaughter’s idea of heaven when she was 6 years old.
Most of us, as believers, would agree that God loved us so much He sent Jesus to earth to be with us and later die on a cross for us. We agree that Jesus is alive and that we can have a relationship with Him here and now. We know that we can talk to Him in prayer and that even though we can’t see Him, He is with us. And at those moments, when we dare to quiet ourselves in church or during a time of prayer and meditation, we may even feel a sense of His presence like a warm hug or an amazing feeling of awe. These realizations are good, but what do we think of heaven? My guess is most of us don’t really think much about it all.
We believe or at least hope that heaven exists. Jesus said it does. He said He was going to prepare a place for us where we could be with Him forever one day and we may have read some after life stories or seen a movie about someone who went to heaven and then came back to life again. We enjoy these stories. They give us hope, but most of the time we are too busy with life here and now to do much more than give heaven a passing glance except, of course, when we are faced with the reality of death when we lose a friend or family member.
I admit, I don’t know very much about heaven either, but I believe heaven is way beyond my wildest imaginations. Just to be in the presence of God, of Jesus forever and ever seems amazing. Yet for kids, it can seem overwhelming or even frightening. Let’s face it, even adults may feel a little frightened by the prospect of heaven or at least with the prospect of leaving this life to get there.
I am not going to try to explain heaven. To be honest, I know very little about heaven myself. I do like my granddaughter’s picture of heaven above. Her rendition shows a hotel, coffee shop and church beside a large Jesus who is leading the way. I’m pretty sure that there is probably not going to be a coffee shop in heaven, but who knows maybe there will be. I do, however love her large Jesus who says, “Follow me!” Maybe that’s all we need to know. When it comes time to cross over from earth to heaven’s shores, you can be sure Jesus will be with us. He has provided our access and He is leading the way. Not only that, He is preparing a place especially for you, yes for you. He has room for you with Him forever. (I wonder if His earthly Father, Joseph, is using his carpentry skills to assist Jesus in preparing a place for us – okay that’s probably just a far-fetched idea, but who knows. God gave us an imagination so we can use it.)
I don’t know how close to crossing over to heaven you are right now. If you are facing a long term illness or are getting up in years, you may be closer than you think. If you are young, raising babies or just starting in your career, you hopefully have quite a few years left on earth. However, life is uncertain and we really don’t know when that time will come. The great thing is, wherever we find ourselves, Jesus is with us. He will walk with us here on earth, helping us, strengthening us and leading us moment by moment, day by day and when that day comes to enter heaven, He will walk with us and welcome us into our new home.
Often kids and even adults can be uncomfortable with the topic of heaven. It’s very scary for a child to think of leaving their parents to go to heaven. When talking with young children about heaven, I reassure them that Jesus is not asking them to go to heaven right this minute. He just wants them to know that He has a place for them when they are ready and when their parents are ready too. I try to stress that Jesus has a place for their whole family. He doesn’t want to take them away from their parents. Mommy and Daddy will be with them. Yes, sometimes children die too. How can you explain that? I don’t believe we need to until the occasion arises. Then I know, that God will give you the words to say. Above and beyond all else, stress, that God loves your child and that Jesus will always, always, always be with them.
Yes, Jesus is alive, heaven is real and our loving heavenly Father will never leave us. Knowing these things, should give us hope even in the
midst of sad times.
Thank you that you are my friend forever. Thank you that you have gone to prepare a place for me to be with you in heaven someday. Thinking of heaven, I can’t begin to imagine what it will be like, but I do know that I will be in your presence forever and ever. I know that kids are often apprehensive of leaving their parents. Heaven may seem scary to them because they don’t understand what heaven is or if their mommy and daddy will be there or not. I can understand that very real fear. Even adults who are strong believers can be apprehensive about leaving this world for heaven, the fear of the unknown can be very real. Give us comfort and strength when faced with death, to remember that you are very much with us. You will not leave us alone, but rather went ahead of us to prepare the way. You are very much alive. You give us hope. Thank you for heaven and for your love. Amen
* When explaining heaven or death to children keep it simple.
* Author Randy Alcorn has a book called “Heaven for Kids” where he helps answer common questions kids have about Heaven. In order for it to be a comfort, they must understand what it means to know Jesus.
* 1 Thes. 4:13-18, Rev. 21:4, Psalm 18:28, Psalm 23:4, Psalm 73:26
STORY: Jesus Returns to Heaven – Mark 16:14-20, Luke 24:50-53
Jesus’ friends were very happy. Jesus was alive and well! He died on a
cross and was placed in a tomb, but He didn’t stay dead! He was alive!
They had seen Him.
One day, Jesus’ friends went up on a mountain with Him. (Climb, climb,
climb.) Jesus said, “I am going back to heaven now, but I will send my
Spirit to be with you always. My Spirit will help you tell the good news
about me to people everywhere; all around the world.” Jesus wanted
everyone to know that He was alive. He wanted them to know that He
would be their forever friend if they believed in Him. When Jesus finished talking to His friends, He lifted up His hands, (Lift hands.) blessed them
and then rose up into the clouds. (Stand up, raise hands and release balloon
if you have one.)
Jesus’ friends were happy that He was alive. They waited for Jesus to send
His Spirit just like He had promised. Jesus did send His Spirit to
be with them always. Then Jesus’ friends went everywhere telling everyone
the good news about Jesus. They said, “It’s true! It’s really true! The Lord has risen. Jesus loves you and wants to be your forever friend.”
Jesus is alive today and His Spirit is with us everywhere we go. We can
tell our families and friends that Jesus is alive and wants to be their
forever friend too. Jesus wants people around the world to know about
Him. He wants them to know that He loves them and wants to be their
friend. What are some ways we can share the good news about Jesus
with others? (Draw pictures, send a note or e-mail, invite someone to
church, pray for others, be kind, share.) What can you tell your friends
about Jesus? (Jesus is alive! Jesus loves you. Jesus hears our prayers.
Jesus wants to be your forever friend.)
MEMORIZE: Matt. 28:6 ERV – (Hands open like holding a book.)
Jesus – (Touch fingers of one hand to palm of the other and vice versa.)
Is not here – (Put fists together like a tomb.)
He has risen from death. – (Wiggling fingers, raise upwards.)
Just as He said – (Put hands by mouth.)
I’m glad that you are alive and that you sent your Spirit to be with me.
Help me be a good friend and share you with others so that they can
have you as a forever friend too. Amen
KNOW: Jesus went up into the clouds, but He is still with us.
TALK ABOUT: My friend, Jesus.
ASK: Who wants to be your forever friend? Jesus wants to be my forever friend.
AND DO… I can tell others about Jesus.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
- Share some good news with a friend. You can tell them, “I prayed for you.” or “Jesus loves you. Jesus is alive!”
- Answer this question as a family, “What’s amazing about your friend, Jesus?” Tell someone why Jesus is amazing.
HELPFUL HINT: To explain the Spirit to the kids, ask the kids to blow on their hands. Can you feel your breath on your hand? Can you see it? No, but you can feel it. God’s Holy Spirit is like that. We can’t see Him, but we know that He is always with us. Don’t worry if kids don’t get it at this age. It is enough for them to know that Jesus loves them and will be with them always.