How My Goodbye Service Was a Foretaste of Heaven.

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Last night I got to taste a small glimpse of heaven.  

If you didn’t know, last night was my final Impact service as the Youth Pastor of Hardin Baptist Church. Beginning in August, Nick Calhoon will become the new Youth Pastor and I will continue serving at Hardin as the Associate Pastor.

So last night was planned as my goodbye service.

I didn’t really know what to expect walking in, because I wasn’t told about anything that was going to happen. So I prepared a few closing remarks from Acts 20, and anticipated speaking those words to the current youth students, and that be that.

But of course, that’s not all that went down.

As I walked in the building, I began to get emotional because I saw faces that were not usually there. Faces of old students and old youth leaders who came back to celebrate this moment with me. And then the band took the stage, but it was not our usual youth band, it was the “old” youth band featuring Cody Brown, Casey Slack, Kody Paschall, and Jordan Harris (and Jackson Greer standing in for Aaron Grant).

And the moment I saw that band take the stage, I lost it. And when I say I lost it, I mean I lost it. As they walked on the stage, all the memories of the past 10 years of youth ministry came flooding back through my mind. I vividly saw a sea of faces that have come and gone through the years. I saw hundreds of trips, events, missions trips, Bible studies, and other moments replay in my mind like a highlight video. It was simply one of those moments words fail to describe.

And then came the videos. Person after person speaking to me, about how God used me to impact their life. What? Who in the world am I, that King Jesus would use me to impact anyone? But that’s His grace. He uses weak and broken jars of clay to carry the treasure of His gospel to others.

And then it hit me.

This is what heaven is going to be like. One big family reunion where all the believers who have ever crossed your path, or impacted by your life, are all back in one place forevermore worshiping King Jesus. You see, what made last night so special was all the people who are not usually there. That’s because some of the band members are now leading worship somewhere else. Some of the old students in the crowd are now serving students in churches somewhere else. And some of the faces on the videos are now raising kids and walking with Jesus somewhere else.

And that’s how this sojourning life is. We are all passing through and longing for one place that is permanent. And all along the way we rub shoulders with people, we impact them, and they impact us. And then we move on and sometimes lose contact.

But last night was a little like heaven. Because for a few hours, so many of those people came back, and we sang together and cried together. And in that moment, we all saw a tiny picture of the Kingdom to come. A day when all of the family of God will be together forever.

But I assure you on that day, the name on the cake will not be mine. For that day will be all about King Jesus, but fellowshipping with one another forevermore will be the sweet icing on that cake.