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There are some pastoral functions that college cannot quite prepare you for. Pastoral things like turning out the lights after everyone leaves and making sure the doors are locked. I do remember a guest lecturer one day talking about his weekly schedule — when he mowed his grass, went shopping, etc. But I tuned him out after he mentioned yard work and probably missed the part about turning out lights.

On the more “spiritual” side of the scale, four years of college did not prepare me for conducting my first funeral. That was done by my seeking out the counsel of a retired pastor who patiently walked me through the process of where to stand and what to say.

Pastors are often called upon to do funerals of people they do not know very well. I treat every occasion as an opportunity to step into a sacred moment, one that is filled with both heaven and earth. The earth-side I understand all too well; it’s heaven that I’m learning more about.

Quite honestly, it wasn’t until I was preparing my thoughts for my mom’s funeral that I really began to feel heaven. Up until that time in 1995, I believed in heaven. I could have told you about the streets paved with gold and other fine details. But it was all in my head, alongside other interesting facts gained from a lifetime of Sunday School.

But during those few days in early December, 1995, those facts travelled the distance from my head to my heart and became alive!

My hope and prayer is that the reality of heaven will come alive for you, too. Sooner rather than later!