by Moody Adams It is great to go to heaven when you die, but there is something better, to go to heaven before you die! The Bible says God has “made us to sit in heavenly places in Christ.” The thing that makes heaven is Jesus’ presence and you can have that here and now! Psalm 16:11 says, “in thy presence is fullness of joy.”
They often beat the apostle Paul, stoned him and put him in prison. Did he write and ask people to please pray for him because he “couldn’t hold out much longer” or declare, “I do not know why God is letting me suffer like this”? No, Paul spent his time in the dungeons writing to cheer up people on the outside. He wrote about “love, peace, and joy.” He dragged his chains across the page and made them rattle like the joy bells of heaven.
Paul had no material wealth. Stocks and bonds? The only stocks he knew were those that shackled his neck, and the only bonds he knew were those that were binding his wrists, but he had Jesus Christ in his heart. Because of the presence of Jesus he could say, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, there with to be content” (Philippians 4:11). Jails do not disrupt that kind of joy.
The world thought Paul was crazy. They called him “mad.” However, they did not know what he had on the inside. He walked around his cell grinning and talking about joy. Appearances were certainly deceiving. You would have never dreamed that in Paul’s earthen vessel was the treasure of God’s presence.
When Bertha Adams went begging for food from her West Palm Beach neighbors, she wore clothes from the Salvation Army and only weighed fifty pounds. No one believed her when she contended she was “a wealthy woman,” but when the seventy-one-year-old widow passed away at the end of March 1975, they found she had over a million dollars in stocks and $850 in cash.
One neighbor, Mrs. Odell Edwards, said, “She came to my back door and begged me for food. She always used to tell me that she was no poor woman.” Appearances sure can be deceiving. There are many people who appear frail and poor, but they actually possess the most priceless treasure—Christ inside their bodies.
In east Texas an old man called “the man with half a head,” told me why he felt sorry for other people. “Sure, cancer has eaten up half my head (one eye, a cheekbone, half his jaw, and a large part of his brains was gone),” he said, “but I’ve got Jesus in my heart. Folks come out here from town and look at me with pity, and all the while I am pitying them because they don’t have Jesus. Soon I am going to get me a new head, but until then, Jesus is in my heart, and I’m so happy I can hardly stand it.”
When I left his little shotgun house and drove away on that dusty Texas road, all doubt was forever gone about the joy God’s presence could bring, even to a dying man with half of a head.