Nannygranne and her five-year-old companion finished their walk, arriving through the patio. The boy opened the sliding door and dashed to the kitchen. “I’ll get the bread and jelly, OK?”
“You bet! I’ll get the peanut butter,” Nannygranne replied.
“Can you smush it all together, please?”
“I’ll let you do that. Is your hand good at working hard?”
“You bet,” he echoed.
Soon their snacks were ready, his milk poured, and her coffee steaming. They sat together at the table and Nannygranne continued their conversation. “So you wanted to talk about when Jesus comes back, am I right?”
“Yes,” he said, “because I heard our neighbor lady tell Mommy that she thought the world might be coming to an end because everybody in the world is gonna get sick.” As he spoke, his voice became quieter and the words came with effort. After he spoke, he looked at his sandwich, took a vicious bite and frowned ferociously.
“Oh my! Your neighbor lady sounds very worried. Do you think she knows Jesus?” Nannygranne asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.
“Well, you and I can find out what Jesus said about His coming back. Then we’ll know.” Nannygranne drew her ever-present Bible from the center of the table. Turning a few pages, she read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17,
16 With a loud command and with the shout of the chief angel and a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord will return from Heaven. Then those who had faith in Christ before they died will be raised to life. 17 Next, all of us who are still alive will be taken up into the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky. From that time on, we will all be with the Lord forever.
“But what if someone doesn’t worship Jesus or they don’t like church?” Nannygranne knew there was more to his question than just the “when.” “Will it be scary?” he wondered.
“For some people, it will be because they haven’t wanted Jesus and maybe thought He wasn’t real, or that they could fool Him. But suddenly, there He will be! God told the Apostle Paul about this.” Nannygranne turned to 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10.
Our Lord Jesus will punish anyone who doesn’t know God and won’t obey his message. 9 Their punishment will be eternal destruction, and they will be kept far from the presence of our Lord and his glorious strength. 10 This will happen on that day when the Lord returns to be praised and honored by all who have faith in him and belong to him. This includes you because you believed what we said.
Nannygranne stopped. Looking at the boy, she asked, “God says that people who don’t know God and won’t obey His message will just keep doing what they are used to doing. They’ll be away from God and His people forever. But those of us who trust and obey God and love His people will be glad to see Him coming. I pray every day for people to want to know God and to learn to love others, and I pray that if God needs me to help, I want to help.”
As she talked, he took a long drink of milk. He set the glass back onto the placemat, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and said, “I trust and obey God so I can be glad to see Him.” Then he added, “It’s going to be a long time from now, right? People aren’t all going to get sick and die, right?” His was a hopeful question, and Nannygranne didn’t miss the wide-eyed concern in his deep brown eyes.
“Of course, everyone is not going to die. People are getting well from the Coronavirus every day, and we’re all being careful to wash germs from our hands and not cough or sneeze on people.” She smiled assuringly and added one more thought. “But the most important thing is that even if Jesus doesn’t come to take His people to Heaven for a long time, many of us will go to Him soon anyway. For example, I’m a lot older than you, and I will probably go to Jesus before you get married, and I’m excited about that.”
“You mean you’re going to die?” He whispered.
“No, just my body will die. My self–the ‘me’ that you know–will still be alive. I’ll get to go to the place Jesus called Paradise, where the others who trust and obey God are waiting.” Then she smiled and looked thoughtfully past him. “Others are waiting, too, like Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Elijah, Young Good King Josiah, Noah, and King David…”
“Waiting for what?” he asked.
Nannygranne answered matter-of-factly, “For Jesus to come for all His children! He’ll wake up our bodies and make them like His Heavenly body. Then He’ll change all His other children’s bodies to be like His. Then we’ll all go home with Him, and we’ll all be together from then on. Our new bodies will never get sick or old or tired…”
“And will I get to see Samuel and Joseph? Can I talk to them? Will Joseph have on his coat of many colors?” Now his questions were full of excitement and wonder as he clapped, bouncing in his seat, offering his high five.
Nannygranne laughed. “Oh, we’ll get to see lots more than that.” Then with mystery in her voice, she asked, “But do you know who the best one of all we’ll get see?” Suddenly her voice caught, her eyes threatening to fill. She took a deep breath, concentrating on her young student.
The boy sensed this answer was something special. Nannygranne raised her eyebrows and smiled, inviting him to guess. She waited.
He searched her face, then flashed a broad grin. He suddenly knew the answer. “We get to see Jesus and give Him a hug!”
All she could do was smile, ruffling his hair and drawing him into a hug, her heart too full to speak.
16 The (disciples) said to Jesus, “Don’t you hear what those children are saying?”
“Yes, I do!” Jesus answered. “Don’t you know that the Scriptures say, ‘Children and infants will sing praises’?” Matthew 21:16
A note to parents: Little ones can understand more than we realize when it comes to anticipating eternal life. We are not temporary. God created us to live eternally with Him. Our bodies separated from our souls is not our natural state. That unnatural state is called Death. Jesus beat Death at its own game. We may have that separation (Death), but Jesus made it temporary. While we wait for our re-creation, we wait with the ancients until the Day He returns. For more reading, consider:
Luke 16:19-31; 1 Thess 4:13-18; Luke 23:38-44; Matthew 17:1-3 (Moses and Elijah had come from that waiting place, Paradise). 2 Corinthians 12:2-4—a difficult passage, but speaks of the wonders of Paradise.