Luis Palau: Looking Toward Heaven

Lessons learned in a lifetime of growing in Christ and sharing him with others.

Excerpted From
Palau: A Life on Fire
By Luis Palau with Paul J. Pastor

Life is short. If a thousand years is as a day to the Lord, then our lifetimes are barely more than a blink. Life has so much beauty and so much sadness. I don’t understand it. But we do what we can despite our human limitations. We teach what the Lord has taught us. We try to be gracious and to grow in humility.

What do I look forward to most about heaven? Seeing the Lord, first. In my mind I have images, pictures picked up along the way. I know that seeing him will be something else entirely. Imagine seeing Jesus Christ face-to-face!

I want to see my dad. I tear up thinking about it. Throughout my life, I’ve wondered if he could see me. Does he know anything about what happened after he left? I mean, I don’t want him to have seen too much, mind you. I wonder if he was watching God’s faithfulness to provide for his family, or if he saw me in Bogotá, London, Portland or New York. Has he seen the boys? Has he taken joy in his remarkable legacy of faithfulness, generosity and ministry?

Hebrews says that there is a great cloud of witnesses. I will join them as one tiny molecule in the cloud of faith. To stand beside my heroes and teachers, to say “Thank you, nice to meet you, finally”—I long to meet Augustine, Moody, Wesley, Whitefield. I want to see Billy Graham again, whenever the worship lulls enough for old friends to embrace.

I wonder what mistakes I made that I was unconscious of. What in the Bible did I misunderstand? Where did I superimpose something upon a passage? I will know as I am known, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13. I am intrigued to find out what that means.

Heaven will be everything we imagined, and more. “There’s not going to be evangelism there, though,” a friend pointed out once. “What are you going to do with your time?”

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“Worship!” I said laughing. There will still be proclamation, just in a different form. We will be praising God for his mighty acts, like in the songs of Revelation. We will be proclaiming the gospel through praise for eternity.

I want others to see the kindness and goodness of God rather than his harshness. In the early years, my ministry was kind of harsh. I think it was a good thing. You must put the fear of God into people sometimes, for fear is the beginning of wisdom. Justice is justice, truth is truth, and that doesn’t change. Facing truth is facing things as they are. We may not like it, but that’s the way it is. God is also the loving Father, the kind Master, the One with greater patience than we can imagine. He is the God of freedom and laughter. Why should we only remember the Lord of heaven when we are afraid of hell? He sets us free. Joy, full blessing, laughter—those are the hallmarks of our relationship with God. It’s not just “turn or burn.”

In my last 20 years, I have softened even more. Not an inch have I shifted in the truth of the gospel. But I have become less aggressive, less confrontational. I have been more willing to extend the grace that God has himself shown me. I’ve been more willing to meet people where they are and go from there. My convictions have grown deeper than ever, even as I have released many of my more arrogant opinions.

Perhaps if you step back and view my preaching over the course of my life, you get a nice balance between the harsh realities that we have brought upon ourselves through our sin and selfishness and the glory of a God who doesn’t want a single one of us to perish. To be absent from the body will be to be present with the Lord.

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No more questions. No more fear. No more suffering. No more of the anger, arrogance and frustrations that dog our souls—everything corrupt and unfinished falls away because new life has come.

It is beautiful.

I have learned lessons in this season of life that I could have learned no other way. God has given me real gifts, even during this time of pain and difficulty. I continue to grow and learn. I continue to be called into God’s delight.

Are you delighting in him? Are you close to the one who has defeated the power and fear of death? Or are you still in bondage to the fear of the unknown?

Turn to Jesus. He is waiting to walk us through the Valley of the Shadow into his glorious light.

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Excerpted from Palau: A Life on Fire by Luis Palau with Paul J. Pastor. Copyright © 2019 by Luis Palau. Used by permission of Zondervan.