2016 opened a new chapter of my journey. Friend after friend after friend met Jesus face to face. My wonderings, my curiosity, my trust about heaven stirred— a good thing.
Jerry Bridges titled his memoir, God Took Me by the Hand. Apt words for me as I pondered familiar Scriptures expanding my thoughts of heaven. Three truths especially encouraged my heart:
Overwhelmed by the love of God
He is nicknamed Doubting Thomas. His faith is challenged when his friends tell him they have seen Jesus after the resurrection. He retorts, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails … I will never believe” John 20:25.
Jesus submits to his request and shows him his wounds.
Jesus has visible wounds AFTER his resurrection! Doesn’t the Bible teach that our resurrected bodies will be new, whole, well, healed? It appears Jesus is an exception.
Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology says, “The scars from Jesus’ crucifixion are unique … The fact that he retains those scars does not necessarily mean that we shall retain ours.” 
John 20:30 and 31 remind us, “Now Jesus did many other signs … but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Both Luke and John record signs of the resurrected Christ … the grave clothes, calling Mary by name, the breaking of bread, and Jesus’s scars. But the scars are mentioned most.
The scars, the proof of his suffering; the proof that he bore our sins on the cross; the proof that he is the sacrificial Lamb of God; the proof of his love.
What in my life most communicates the reality of God? Often it is my scars. Everyone experiences hards. Hards lead to scars that speak of reality, of humanity, of my need for community, of opportunities to love.
I’m also learning that scars open doors for ministry and opportunities to introduce my friends to the reality of Jesus.
Jesus’ scars testify of God’s amazing love, love big enough to send his son to an excruciating death on a cross so we could experience a relationship with him. Our scars (which are only for our earthly days) allow us to share the love of Jesus.
Most recently our brother-in-law met his Savior face to face. Wallace struggled the past five years with numerous serious health issues that defined the rest of his days here on earth. The man who always gave big strong bear hugs and built houses could no longer walk on his own or care for himself. Yet until this past year he continued to travel to be with family and deliver love from the seat of his walker. Although his physical capacity was forever changed, it was obvious from the words spoken, the scriptures read, and the hymns sung at his funeral his inner self was still the same. He knew God’s love, and he loved God and his family. The banner in the front of the church read, “Wallace, I have called you by name” from Isaiah 43:1.
II Corinthians 4:16, 17 – “… Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Jesus never leaves us … He takes us by our hand
Psalm 23:4 speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Physical death, our doorway to heaven. The Psalmist declares, “I will fear no evil,” Why? Because you (God) are with me.
Hebrews 13:5 referencing Joshua 1:5, “I will never leave you…”
God never ever leaves His beloved children! Never!
In the opening verses of John 14, Jesus tells us that he is preparing a place for us in his Father’s house. When that place is prepared he will personally escort us there. “… I will come again and will take you to myself …” (verse 4).
Even in those moments as we pass from our earthly life, Jesus has our hand. Never, never, never, are we away from his presence.
Jesus’ scars—yet another picture of his love, our inner and now our outer renewal complete, and the truth that God’s presence is an all-the-time reality is only the beginning of the wonders of heaven. Pondering these has created new anticipation for heaven in my heart.
What about you? What are you looking forward to about heaven?
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” Jude 24
 Grudem, Wayne Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 616.
Sue and her husband Bill live in Colorado Springs and attend Village Seven PCA. Bill serves as a ruling elder and Sue as a shepherd in their Sunday School Community. She enjoys talking about the gospel over coffee with the women she ministers to Sue writes on her blog, Echoes of Grace at suetell.com.