Straight from the Longing Heart
By Lisa Elliott
I had the privilege of attending a concert at the Centre for Performing Arts in downtown Toronto recently. My niece, Nicola, was selected as one of approximately 500 students to sing along with Jodi Benson; Disney’s voice of The Little Mermaid—Ariel. What a wonderful experience, not only for my niece, but for us as a family. I texted my niece before the evening began to tell her I was excited to be a “part of her world.”
Over lunch, on our way to the performance, my daughter, Erin said grace. In her prayer, she prayed that Jesus would make an appearance at the concert. Nothing else was said, and I actually forgot about these words of hers until the concert began to unfold.
The music conductor at the event introduced Jodi as “someone special”. He told the audience that she had left a profound first impression on him and he knew there was something different about her. As Jodi performed multiple songs from Disney movies, indeed he was right. There was something different about her. She introduced songs by saying things such as, “God gifted me with this voice.” “I consider my music as an act of worship.” “Listen to the words of this prayer from the Hunchback of Notre Dame.” And, “I feel that when I perform, I’m doing what God created me to do.”
Before her final song, “Part of Your World”; her claim to fame as the voice of Ariel, she introduced her own niece to us. Her niece had, only months earlier, lost a ten month battle with cancer. She went on to tell us that, although she was very sad and missed her niece tremendously, she knew she was more alive than ever because she knew her niece was with Jesus. And she dedicated the song to her.
As she sang the words to “Part of Your World”, I was whisked away to another world. A world where there will be no more sorrow, or tears, or heartache, or misunderstandings, or relationship breakdowns, or financial pressures, or hate, or disappointment—A world, called Heaven, where my own son, Ben, now lives.
The song stirred such a deep impenetrable longing to be a part of that world; homesickness, if you will. And yet, I know in my heart there’s a reason—perhaps multiple reasons—I’m still a part of this one. My longing heart resonates with the words of Paul to the Philippian church,
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. (Phil. 1:21-26)¬
In my son, Ben’s final message to our church family before he left this world, he said this:
I wonder if you have ever really thought about death. I mean not just a casual crossing your mind or passing thought – everyone’s done that. I mean really, really thought about death, because I have a little bit.
I don’t mean to brag or sound proud or be boastful or anything, but I’m not afraid to die at all. I’m not worried about my death. I’m not afraid to die because I’m a Christian. I know that death just means I move on from this life onto an eternal party in heaven. I can say 100 percent honestly that I am not scared to die, but I’m very excited actually. Just to think that there will be no more pain or suffering – just partying and eternal happiness!
My name is written down in heaven! Think about that! “Benjamin David Elliott” is physically written down in the Book of Eternal Life! If that’s not a cool mental image then I don’t know what is!! (I hate emotions).
Psalm 139:16 says that “All my days ordained for me were written in God’s book before there was even one of them.” Meaning God was in charge from the day I was born and is equally as is in charge of the day that I will die and takes me home. So, I don’t have to be worried or afraid, I just have to trust Him!
…So yes, God wants us to have a long life on earth and enjoy ourselves, but just think of how incredible eternity will be! We as Christians should not be scared of death. Instead, we should look forward with hope to an amazing eternal life in heaven. Ultimately, it all comes down to our relationship with Jesus. It’s not about religion; it’s about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, I guess the bottom line and big question is this: Are you just a religious person, or do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Is your name written down in the book of eternal life? If it’s not, you should definitely take some time out of your day to think about how awesome eternity can and will be if it’s spent with God in heaven!
(View on YouTube—Ben Elliott, Stratford)
I know that one day I will be part of the world where my son, Ben now lives—I know because, like Ben, I have a personal relationship with the One who created this world and the one to come. It’s a world that, for now, I can only imagine; and not because of Disney’s imagination station. But because of the One who gave His life to redeem a lost and broken world; the One who knows me and hears the cry of my longing heart. I can’t wait to be a part of that world! How about you?
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org