Mike Ruffin

Mike Ruffin is a former county manager, including in Cabarrus County, and a minister.

“Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11:16)

My pastor used the above verse during a sermon last week.  Don’t tell him, but I drifted off to my years as a teenager as soon as he started reading it.  It reminded me of something my granny once told me.

I loved to hear her tell a story.  One day I noticed a wedding band on her finger and said, “What’s that Granny?  You aren’t married?”

“Oh, yes I am,” she replied, “more years than I care to count.”

I thought she might have suffered a stroke.  Her husband died in 1939 and this was the mid to late 1960’s.  His memory might be alive, but he was dead and gone.

“Your husband died a long time ago, Granny,” I told her. 

“He sure did,” she quipped, “but he’s still my husband and I’m going to see him again when I get to heaven.  That’s why I wear this ring.”

Obviously, there wasn’t anything wrong with my granny, other than a longing to see her husband and the confidence that such a moment would come.  The Bible calls that confidence, faith, and describes it as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1) 

But my granny taught me something else from that experience.  I didn’t realize it then, but I sure do now.  The older we get, the more we think about heaven.  In fact, I think that’s what the character, Paul Edgecomb, was trying to say in The Green Mile.  Edgecomb, a death row supervisor, now retired and well over a hundred and eight years old, laments that God’s must be punishing him for an old deed by letting him live so long.  As I listened to Edgecomb, I thought about my own life and realized that I don’t want to live to be that old either.  He’s right:  It can’t be any fun to outlive all your friends.

The unbeliever looks at those of us who yearn for heaven as if we are crazy.  That’s because all they have to look forward to is a grave.  But the Bible tells us something different altogether about death: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave.”  (Acts 2:26-27)

There’s something else that heaven offers for all of us.  All the questions will finally be answered.  There’ll be no doubt up there.  Listen to how the songwriter said it:

Here we’re often tossed and driv’n on the restless sea of time,

Rolling clouds and howling tempest oft succeed a bright sunshine;

In that land of perfect day, when the mist is rolled away,

We will understand it better by and by.

We are often destitute of the things that life demands,

Want of shelter and of food, with thirsty hills and barren land;

But we’re trusting in the Lord, and according to His word,

We will understand it better by and by.

Trials hard on ev’ry hand, and we cannot understand

All the ways that God will lead us to that blessed Promised Land;

But He’ll guide us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die,

We will understand it better by and by.

Here temptation’s hidden snare often takes us unaware,

And our hearts are made to bleed by some tho’tless word or deed;

And we wonder why the test when we try to our best,

We will understand it better by and by.

It’s going to be some kind of place, isn’t it?  When I get there, right after I see Jesus and hug my mom, mydad, and my two brothers I’m going to go looking for my granny.  She won’t be that hard to find; she’ll be the one the one with the wedding band on her finger.

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