There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies;
but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor
of the earthly bodies is another.
1 Corinthians 15:40
Many of us think back with some degree of yearning for our younger, healthier bodies. We remember when we could balance a baby on one hip and a sack of groceries on the other with no problem. We may also remember running with the wind in our hair, skiing down a snowy slope, or even playing tennis or golf. Regardless of what we’ve used our bodies for, it’s obvious to all of us that they can only serve us well for so long. Eventually, like everything else in this world, they wear out.
Everything having to do with our bodies is temporary. Certainly beauty is fleeting, strength diminishes, and joints eventually begin to ache and pop. Try as we might in this youth-oriented culture, there is no reversing the ravages of time on the human body. Gravity alone is responsible for much of it. But the good news is that, regardless of what shape our earthly body is in, we can trade it in for a heavenly body some day! That’s an offer everyone should be eager to accept once the time comes.
Author and artist Joni Eareckson Tada has been in a wheelchair since she was injured in a diving accident as a teenager. After being a quadriplegic for over 40 years, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy and chemotherapy treatments. So when she says that suffering makes us yearn more deeply for our heavenly home, she speaks from experience.
“One day no more bulging middles or balding tops,” she writes in her book Heaven Your Real Home. “No varicose veins or crow’s feet. No more cellulite or support hose…Just a quick leapfrog over the tombstone and it’s the body you’ve always dreamed of. Fit and trim, smooth and sleek.” (Joni Eareckson Tada, Heaven Your Real Home, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001), 34.)
Of course, beyond all the issues we all face as our bodies age, Joni especially longs for a heavenly body that functions better than her earthly one has for a long time. “I’m ready to have this lowly body transformed,” she writes. She goes on to say that then “I will bear the likeness of Jesus, the man from heaven. Like His, mine will be an actual, literal body perfectly suited for earth and heaven.” (Joni Eareckson Tada, Heaven Your Real Home, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001), 35.)
While we may be blessed with bodies that work better than Joni’s does, we can all relate to her excitement and anticipation about receiving a new body in heaven. Just as we trade in whatever residence we are living in here for a mansion in heaven, our new, heavenly bodies will be glorious indeed! And whatever pains and suffering we’ve experienced on earth will be quickly forgotten once heaven is all around us.
Do you know, without a doubt, that you’re going to heaven? If you aren’t sure, consider praying the prayer Joni Eareckson Tada shared with her readers:
Lord Jesus, I realize I have lived my life far from you
And I see now how my sin has separated me from You.
Please come into my life—my heart, mind, and spirit—
And make me the person You want me to be.
Forgive me for living away from You all these years
And help me to turn from my old ways
To Your new and righteous ways.
I invite You to be Lord of my life
And thank You for the difference You will make.
(Joni Eareckson Tada, Heaven Your Real Home, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001), 209-210.)
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by Nancey Brummette
Nancy Parker Brummett first led a Bible study in an assisted living setting in 1999 and she and the Lord developed The Hope of Glory in the years that followed. She also journeyed with her mother and mother-in-law through their adventures in aging, and her academic interest in aging led her to receive the Professional Certificate of Gerontology from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. The author of four other books, she now focuses her writing and speaking ministries on her passion for older adults and those who care for them. To learn more about Nancy’s life and work or to subscribe to her blog on aging issues, Take My Hand Again, visit her website.