A teacher asked the children in her Sunday School class."If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?"
"NO!" the children all answered.
"If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into heaven?"
Again, the answer was, "NO!"
"Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my wife, would that get me into heaven?" she asked them again.
Again, they all answered, "NO!"
"Well, then how can I get into heaven?"
A five-year-old boy shouted out, "YOU GOTTA BE DEAD!"
Ah, the refreshing quality of children to be able to acknowledge the obvious! Here is a child who makes an observation so evident that we often overlook it in our attempt to be deep thinkers. But what he said is true: "In order to get to heaven, you gotta be dead!" So why do we fear death so much? As Christians, we ought to be able to see death as a door to the place where we most want to be -- the presence of God. If we truly see it that way, there is no fear, only anticipation.
Imagine a couple who has been planning to move to another country. Many of their family members have already moved over there. They spend months and months studying the culture, learning the language, anxiously awaiting the day when they are able to make the move as well. The day comes when they step on the plane. Do they dread the plane trip? No, it's the one thing that will carry them to where they most want to be. Will there be sadness? Certainly, because there will be friends that they will leave behind. But nothing can outweigh their excitement of what lies ahead. It's what they have spent their lives preparing for.
Death is only something to fear if it means leaving behind all of the things that we love most. If our love for material things is greater than our love for God, then death is a terrible thing to experience and it is nothing to look forward to. But if our life has been spent developing a relationship with our heavenly Father, then death is the opportunity to go home.
"We know that our body -- the tent we live in here on earth -- will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever. But now we groan in this tent. We want God to give us our heavenly home, because it will clothe us so we will not be naked. While we live in this body, we have burdens, and we groan. We do not want to be naked, but we want to be clothed with our heavenly home. Then this body that dies will be fully covered with life. This is what God made us for, and he has given us the Spirit to be a guarantee for this new life. So we always have courage. We know that while we live in this body, we are away from the Lord." (2 Cor. 5:1-6)