’M GETTING READY TO MEET WITH THOUSANDS OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been washing and packing clothes, breaking in my new, comfortable shoes, and, of course, driving my family crazy as instructions for while I’m gone randomly pop out of my mouth.
I am a working mother—something I’ve prayerfully continued to do while raising three children with my husband. I have a sturdy support system currently, for which I daily send prayers heavenward. While I’m away for two weeks this summer there are no less than three adults ready and able to take care of everyone and everything in our household. And yet, as I remember another piece of advice, I’m a little stressed about who and what I’m leaving behind.
Will the adults remember to use lotion after baths? Will the children eat their vegetables? Will their allergy medicines, bug repellent, sunscreen be forgotten? Will the children have Sabbath clothes ready for Sabbath? Will they go to bed on time (or at least before midnight)? Will someone remember to pray and have worship with them? Will they be able to make the trek down, as planned, in the latter part of the GC session?
Leaving the comforts of home is tough for me. I enjoy seeing new places and meeting new people, but at the end of the day I like being home. I like my bed, my exercise machine, my refrigerator, my sofa, my books. Leaving these things behind is no pleasure. And while a few hours away from noisy children is nice, I like (and love) my family—leaving them behind is not bliss.
I can take small comfort in making sure I’m prepared for my journey—?and that I’ve done my part to help others be ready too. And not just for a jaunt to Atlanta. Getting ready for this trip has had me thinking more about what I’ll leave behind when I go to heaven, how I’m preparing myself, and what I’m doing to help others make the trip too.
Christ’s promise in Matthew 28:20 serves as assurance that He’ll be a part of the preparations. Writes Ellen White: “With the assurance of the abiding presence of such a Helper, we may labor with hope and faith and courage” (Welfare Ministry, p. 70).
If leaving my loved ones behind for a relatively short time period causes me some anxiousness, I cannot imagine what leaving my loved ones behind for the trip of all trips would mean. Possessions, in fact, cease to matter. But I take these words of White to heart: “May the Lord give you wisdom, and give wisdom to all who are teaching the truth to others in Biblical institutes, or in any other place, that they may know how to communicate that which they have learned to perishing souls. If those who have heard the precious truth, . . . will lay hold upon God by living faith, and be vitalized by His Holy Spirit, and take up the work right where they are, lifting up Jesus before their own family that all may behold Him, they will do the very work that God calls upon them to do” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, p. 204).
When I go to heaven, there are lots of things I will leave behind. In fact, I’m sure I’ll be leaving every thing behind. But not everyone. I’m going to do my best to bring my family along by sharing with them the promises of God, the salvation found in Jesus Christ, and the amazing power of prayer.
What I leave behind isn’t as important as whom I might leave behind, but if I do my part, there’s a good possibility I won’t have to leave anyone behind when it counts the most. I’ll live the words in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, and what we leave behind will be no more.
Kimberly Luste Maran is young adult editor for Adventist Review.