“You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
The cancer patient was a young boy about 11 years old. I visited him during the week, usually a Wednesday, because he lived out of town and his working mother could only come to see her son on weekends. I had no idea where his father was, I just know he had deserted the family because he fell in love with another woman.
I usually tried to bring some small thing for him like a book about astronomy written for children. One time I brought my hand-held ham radio and we talked with people all over the province of Ontario to his great delight.
One time when we were talking about his pet dog back home he suddenly asked the question, “Mr. Rumford, are there dogs in heaven?” I knew that he was missing his dog terribly and he wished to be home to run and play with him as he did before coming to the hospital.
I realized that he meant something more profound than the matter of whether or not dogs were in heaven. He really wanted to know if heaven was for children like himself. That was what he really meant. I assured him that there were dogs in heaven.
My simple answer to his profound question seemed to make him happy and he changed the subject from heaven to something else. A few weeks later he entered the city of God and found the eternal bliss reserved for God’s people. I am persuaded he found a dog just for him to enjoy in God’s eternal presence.
When we read chapter 5 of Romans we are taught that what was lost by the first Adam (Genesis 3) will be restored by Christ—the second Adam. In Genesis 1 and 2 we read that Adam and Eve enjoyed the Garden of Eden that was filled with animals, trees, the presence of God and everything else needed to produce complete joy and pleasure (Psalm 16:11).
Scripture is full of teaching that what is most satisfying to God’s people in heaven is His presence. Certainly the thought of being reunited with loved ones who have gone ahead of us is wonderful. To think of being able to talk with people we have read about in Scripture like David, Moses, and others, is amazing. But truly the centrepiece of heaven is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Himself.
The young lad’s immature faith focussed on his beloved dog. What he saw faintly here he then saw most clearly there. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”