Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

A Review with Joy

While I look forward to the gift of eternal life in heaven, I am in no hurry to get there.

The aspect of the death process that frightens me most is the “life review.” Many believe, that upon arriving in heaven, one of our first experiences will be a replaying of our entire lives as if someone had video recorded it. An interesting aspect of this review is that along with seeing all the good and bad that we have done, we will experience how our words and actions have affected others. It is possible that we will feel the emotions of the people who have been influenced by our behavior. If something you have done brings joy to another person, then you will feel that joy. If something you have done harms another person, then you will feel that person’s negative emotions. If this indeed takes place, then we will truly know the impact that our lives have had on others. Some have even suggested we will witness the ripple effect of our lives: what we say and do make a difference on people with whom we have had no direct contact. I have always thought such a process would be “hell” and not heaven. My world is one where I continually judge myself, reflecting on my behavior, and unfortunately, beating myself up over my sins and omissions. I even dwell on things from decades ago that should have been long forgotten.

In a recent dream I was introduced to an unexpected reality of my life review. I had gathered with fellow Christians in a home-like church; although unfamiliar to me, it represented a former parish I had served. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate my retirement. One by one, people to whom I ministered over the last thirty-plus years came up to me to tell me how my ministry had made a positive impact on their lives. Some of the people I remembered, most I did not. To all I was surprised that I had made a difference. One woman came up to me reclined in a wheel chair. While she did not speak; she simply passed by. I remembered her as a parishioner I saw in a nursing home who was confined to her bed because of a stroke. I never thought I made much of an impression when I visited her. However, in my dream, as she passed by, I realized how important my visits had been to her.

Upon waking I was stunned to realize all the good I had done. I realized that I had been focusing on all the “bad” things I have done in life while God has focused on all the good I have done. I have been making a positive difference even though I was unaware of it.

Wouldn’t that make heaven a joy? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be greeted by all the people you have touched in a positive way, even people when you were unaware? Those joys will make the sinful nature of ourselves (as revealed in the review process) more bearable to endure. I wonder, then, if we witness the negative ramifications of our behavior so that we can continue to make a things right in heaven.

Everyone’s life makes a difference. It is our Christian calling to make it a difference for the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

In Christ’s amazing grace,

A Special Thanks

Thank you to all who worked to make the new playground possible. Many of you helped in a variety of ways to get the lot prepared and the structure built. It has been a fun project, and it is heart-warming to see members of the congregation come together to make something happen.

9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684