by: Dr. Bob Gray Sr.
Hebrews 7:16, “Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.”
The thing we fear most in life is the end of life. It doesn’t matter how saintly one is or how spiritual one is; we all shrink from death. In my 29 years of pastoring the Longview Baptist Temple of Longview, Texas, I conducted over 150 funerals. We literally had an LBT north in Heaven. We had our own church in Heaven. None of God’s people really know about life. Life is like a thin line that can be clipped so quickly.
As a pastor I lived with death not only in Longview, but also around the country because of my weekly travels. About the time you arrive to a place where you know enough to do anything, you are too weak to do it. About the time you figure it out you die, or about the time you become good at what you do you die.
Why is this? Why didn’t God make us smarter when we were young? Of course, that is what the average teen thinks God did. It is amazing, for the more you learn it seems like the less able you are to physically do what you have learned.
I have written in my Bible, “remember Bill Nelson” and “remember Cecil Kammediemer” and “remember Joe Simmons” and “remember Dr. Paul Duckett Jr.” and “remember Chris Wick” and “remember Ken Neiland.” It doesn’t make sense to me, and it is puzzling to me, when I look at Bill Nelson’s parents and I wonder why?
I think of him graduating from TEXAS BAPTIST COLLEGE, beginning his full-time service on the faculty of TEMPLE BAPTIST SCHOOLS, young, in love, about to marry, excellent science teacher, and all of a sudden he is taken in a tragic car accident after running his Sunday school bus route. Don’t you wonder like I wonder, “Why would he all of a sudden at the beginning of his young life be taken so suddenly in his 30’s?”
LIFE IS A TRAINING PLACE FOR AN ETERNAL OCCUPATION
Life is an internship for God’s children. It is a preparatory school. My life is not my final work. Each day is a school day on Earth and each lesson to be used someday in Heaven. Thus, death is a commencement exercise for all of these 65 years I have lived, for I have in reality been going to school.
My final vocation is found in Heaven. My final work is to be found in Heaven, and I am going to school here on Earth, for I am in training for my final work in Heaven. This is a prep course of study I am taking on Earth.
THE LENGTH OF TRAINING DEPENDS ON THE OCCUPATION WE WILL HAVE IN HEAVEN
On Earth, medical doctors have to go through ten years of training before they are allowed to be full-fledged medical doctors. Surgeons like LBT’s Dr. Jim Marvel, have to wade through rigorous schooling to be the great surgeon that he is today. These surgeons need twelve or more years of internship to prepare and be prepared for their life’s work.
A lawyer, like LBT’s late Mike Fetter, did not go to school as long as a medical doctor, but he still had to spend several years before he could hang his sign to practice law. On the other hand, an electrician or a carpenter or a plumber would maybe take less years than that in order to practice their profession. There are other jobs that take far less time and some jobs may take just a few weeks for which to prepare.
The Scriptures teach in Heaven we are going to serve our God. You and I will have an occupation in Heaven. We are in training now for that particular occupation. It may be that some will need to live to be ninety or over in order for their training to be complete. There are others who only need to live fifty years, because after fifty years they are ready for their occupation in Heaven.
God’s children are not going to go to Heaven and float around on clouds sprinkling sparkly dust everywhere with a set of wings to fly with and play bumper cars with their clouds. God’s children are not just going to spend all their time walking the streets of gold saying, “Glory to God.” The Bible teaches that the redeemed will serve for all eternity and never become tired.
The redeemed will have vocations in Heaven. God has a specific job for you to do in Heaven. Heaven is a city! It is a city like Dallas, Fort Worth, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. It has streets like a city has. It has houses like a city does. It is a real place. The Bible says it is in the north. I think it is a planet, a real planet. I know for sure it has streets, houses, river, and catfish (Ha).
I know we will have work to do if we are all serving. I know we will have bodies with which to do that work, but we have to spend the appropriate time on Earth preparing and training for our occupation in Heaven.
BILL NELSON NEEDED JUST A LITTLE OVER 30 YEARS TO BECOME READY FOR HIS OCCUPATION
Excuse me, but why should Bill hang around if he has graduated? He prepared for 30 years and was ready, so why not start his vocation?
This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
Pastoring LBT was not my work, for it was training and preparatory work for my main work in Heaven. Being an author is not my work, for it is again preparatory work for my main work in Heaven.
ONE DAY THE REST OF US WILL BE READY FOR OUR OCCUPATION IN HEAVEN
When I graduated from Bible College it was hard to leave. My wife was Dr. Wendell Evans’ secretary and I was on the college staff. I had been asked to head up the Bible Department of the college for the coming school year. The truth is, Mrs. Gray and I wept when it dawned on us we were leaving to pastor. I graduated and in some ways it was like a death to us for we dreaded leaving. No one wants to leave their loved ones, but you will graduate and your loved ones won’t want you to leave, but you have graduated.
I became the pastor of a Baptist church, then the workload started piling up, and all of a sudden I am buried in the work. When I accepted the call to Longview Baptist Temple of Longview, Texas, I thought I would die. I would have to leave the loved ones of that church. I had to leave my one-legged deacon Jack Lewis and others that I loved.
It is normal for one not to want to leave, but leave one must. God knows when you are trained and ready. God will pass out your diploma at commencement time when you are ready for your vocation.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE TO YOUR ETERNAL OCCUPATION YOU WILL FORGET YOUR EARTHLY OCCUPATION
You and I will be serving God himself in our Heavenly occupation. We will labor, but never become exhausted or even a little bit tire. We will love it and the struggles of the training and preparatory time will disappear. We will be serving God and serving each other for an eternity and loving every moment of it. Prepared and serving for all of eternity!
GOD’S CHILDREN WILL SERVE WITHOUT PAIN AND HEARTACHE
Our service to our God will be accomplished in our glorified bodies. These bodies will never age, never break down, never become ill, never become weak, and will never die. Our ability to serve God and each other will be a service without exhaustion or exacerbation. This will continue for all eternity with perfect peace.
Dr. Bob Gray Sr.