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  • Writer's pictureMarco Inniss

Looking Heavenward Transforms Our Sorrow

The Ever-Inspiring, Heavenward Life

When my oldest child died, I knew that my life would never be the same. In the initial months that followed, I expected that the change would be entirely negative. However, not all of the differences were painful. The Lord did something unexpectedly positive that has remained with me ten years later.


On November 10, 2013, my son lived in my house. On November 11, 2013, he lived in heaven above. Heaven was no longer an abstract, theological concept. It was now my son’s home.

Before this season, I would describe myself as a heavenly-minded person. I would think about heaven on nights when my head rested on the pillow but I could not still my mind for sleep. Heaven would be on my mind when I watched men carry a coffin down the aisle of the church at a funeral or at time when a loved one was nearing their final days. These were occasions when I would intentionally think about eternity. However, after my son’s death, the Lord created a change in my mind, heart, and life that I would describe as a “heavenward shift.” God effectuated this turning both through the tragic circumstances of my son’s death but also through a critical new “friendship” that I made in the pages of Scripture.


I became consumed with heaven in a manner that eternity had a constant presence in my perspective in the routine matters of daily life. I missed attending a college reunion but found solace knowing that I’d have plenty of time with my believing friends in the new heaven and new earth. I’d forget to pay a bill and incur a late fee, something that would previously unravel me. Now I thought, “I won’t miss the $15 in eternity.” When I’d prepare a Bible study lesson or sermon, I would conceive of the lesson as an offering to place before the judgment seat of Christ at the second coming. This mindset brought more meaning, inspiration, and focus to lesson prep. During a hard season of life, the length of the struggles seemed shorter and more manageable with eternity as the backdrop of the trial. All of these realities were blessing me immensely and taking my spiritual life to new places.


I use the term heavenward to distinguish between heavenly-mindedness as compared to what I was experiencing. Heavenly-mindedness constitutes a spiritual discipline whereby we deliberately meditate on eternity (as God calls us to in Col. 3:1). On the other hand, I characterize heavenward as “a work of God in your life in which heaven becomes an organic part of your daily perspective and the object of your life’s direction.”

I started to feel a little strange about this perpetual, heavenward mindset, though, as if I were operating in a new reality. I sensed that nobody else around me was thinking like this. And then I met my “friend,” the apostle Paul. As I read his letters with fresh eyes, I noticed that Paul integrated heaven into just about everything, including somewhat mundane matters of life. Whether it was suffering, good works, singleness, communion, morality, spiritual gifts, etc., he would relate just about anything to eternity. Paul had a heavenward mindset that made me feel less weird.


Lasting Heavenwardness

The circumstances of having a child in heaven drove my heavenwardness in the early days of this transformation. At the same time, I do not think I would have sustained this eternal mindset without Paul’s letters in Scripture. What I discovered in the apostle’s theology of heaven is that the eternal realities of every Christian’s salvation should naturally create a magnified consciousness of heaven in all of us.

At the core, Paul believed that the coming of Jesus constituted the long-awaited divine visitation of God, known as the Day of the Lord. It also inaugurated the arrival of heaven on earth, which Jews called the Age to Come. Believers, upon conversion, are transferred into this heavenly realm on earth, which Paul often refers to as the Kingdom of God, the new creation, the age of the Spirit, or the light. We are “delivered . . . from the domain of darkness and transferred . . . to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Hence, our current citizenship truly becomes heaven the second we put our faith in Christ (Phil. 3:20).

In addition, the Lord blesses us with particular blessings of the future heavenly life during our time on earth. We come into union with Christ, which will be the bedrock of our heavenly joy. He declares the current, heavenly blessing of union with Christ in Colossians by saying, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Furthermore, Paul described the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the present “guarantee” or “down payment” of the future communion with God in the heavenly life. As a result of all these new realities brought about by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, Paul lived with a foot in heaven and a toe on earth.


The Fruit of a Heavenward Life

Many may think this heavenly-mindedness would make a person detached and ineffective in this present earthly life. The opposite was true for the apostle. He had a fierce sense of commitment to evangelism, missions, and church planting. He showed a noble buoyancy and perseverance in suffering. He had an enviable level of contentment in this life. Paul was resolute in his commitment to morality and ethics. More than anything, he demonstrated bravery through his absence of fear about death.

Paul had character, contentment, and conviction that we would all long for, but the factors that enabled these blessings for him are common to all believers. In a manner that certainly is more modest than what the apostle experienced, I have tasted some of the richness and transformation of the heavenward life, and I long for others to enjoy them too.

The heavenward journey begins with knowing the present and future eternal realities of your salvation. They will bring you such life, hope, and joy! Having a heavenward life, where eternity comprises the perpetual backdrop of your day-to-day consciousness, however, is a gracious work of the Holy Spirit in your heart, mind, and life. Seek his truth about heaven and pray for this work. The Lord may surprise you with an inspiring pivot in your spiritual life in the way same that he unexpectedly has turned ashes to beauty in my life.


Our current citizenship truly becomes heaven the second we put our faith in Christ.




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