A couple weeks ago my wife and I were part of a group that went to watch a Major League Baseball game. I drove our bus that day, and as we arrived at the ball park, I pulled up to the front gates to allow our participants to unload. We had a few minutes before the doors to the park opened, so we sat outside and ate the lunch we had brought with us. We were seated in an area where tour buses, school buses and private buses could pull out of the flow of traffic and unload. As we ate, we watched the groups as they unloaded and organized before entering the ball park. One group that caught our attention was one from Iowa that had traveled to Milwaukee to watch the game. It was a group of adults with special needs. It must have been a group of a hundred or more adults. As they unloaded, you could sense the excitement they were feeling. They were completely thrilled to be at the park. But you could also see that there were many differences in them and the other groups that were arriving. In this particular group, some had physical disabilities and some mental. We noticed that no matter what these individuals were facing, they were excited to be there.
As we continued to eat and wait for the gates to open, I thought about those that were surrounding us now. These are the people that our society tends to ignore. Because of our own perceived needs, we unconsciously think that someone else will attend to the needs of those who are less fortunate, and we continue on with finding our own way. These people I am speaking of could be those with disabilities, or it could just as easily be someone who has lost a job, their family, a home, or simply made some poor choices in life and are left without hope. Whatever the case, like that group arriving at the park that day, they are all around us.
My wife caught my attention that morning as we sat and waited. In reference to the group of those with special needs, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Those are the ones who will be first in heaven.” Wow! That hit me like a bolt of lightning from the sky. Not that I didn’t already know that, but it was just one of those ‘a-ha’ moments. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus said it this way: “Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Luke 13:30
The life we live here is but a vapor in the scope of all eternity. The problems we struggle with on this earth will soon pass away and we will be completely whole in the presence of our King. And the individuals who have struggled the most in this life will be the ones who, I believe, will be the closest to our King in heaven. There is a great day coming when all pain and limitations in this life will disappear, just like the vapor of our lives.
It is an honor to be a part of an organization that believes in providing for those whom society can’t seem to find the answer. Kim Schooley and her staff do a wonderful job of helping these individuals feel important and useful. In the eyes of most, and in this world, these people that her program services may never be given first consideration. But where it really counts, in eternity, where there will be no end to time and existence, they will be first, forever.
I often hear from others how they can’t wait to experience heaven. Why wait? Spend some time with those who are closest to the heart of God today; those who in our eyes may be limited or have greater needs than we do. In God’s eyes, they are a glimpse of the glory of what is to come. And by refusing to ignore the needs of those around us, whether physical, mental, emotional, or whatever, we begin to see this life with a whole new perspective. As one Christian musician wrote years ago, we begin to see “Heaven in the Real World.”
Keep serving. Keep reaching. Keep hoping.
Republished with permission from YMCA at Pabst Farms, Journey in Faith, September 2, 2011
Bruce Osborne is the Director of Spiritual Development at the YMCA at Pabst Farms, 1750 E. Valley Road, Oconomowoc, WI 53066. a facility which promotes “Building of Strong Kids, Strong Families, and Strong Communities,” through its inclusion programming.