Pain In Paradise

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say I used everything you gave me. ( Erma Bombeck )





Heaven will be glorious except for one agonizing moment described in Revelation 21:4, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there shall be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

The late Crandall Miller was best known for a sermon he preached entitled Thimble Crown. He had not associated pain with paradise until he began studying Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, “No one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.” Paul’s words helped him understand that those who enter heaven must first appear at Christ’s Judgment. That could be a problem. “I received a very vivid picture of being at the Judgment,” Miller explains. “I stood in heaven watching as the works of others were brought out and piled up. They were then tested. At first, things looked good for me. I had served God for many years, preached hundreds of times and pastored churches; taught young ministers in seminary … joined three churches … been baptized three times … had perfect attendance at Sunday School … and faithfully served the Lord.

Suddenly, my name was called and I stepped forward with confidence. They brought out my pile of works and I noticed large holes in it and wondered why. The answer came. The holes are the things you should have done and didn’t. I was devastated. Not everything … was gold, and silver… wood and hay were mixed in my pile. My perfect Sunday School attendance was fuel for fire. Why was this not a good work? Then it hit me—my mom gets this reward because she pushed me out of bed and got me to church. There were holes in my prayer life. Why? When I did anything other than God’s perfect will by placing something else in its place; it turned into wood and hay. There were instances when I should have worked but instead I prayed. There were times when I should have prayed but instead I worked. My preaching was flawed. I had failed to properly prepare my sermons, and during those times I asked God to bless the service despite my carelessness. God had mercy and things went well but I took the credit for it. Christ’s judgment was painful. Fire was placed on my works and I watched them burn. Tears began to roll down my face. An angel took what remained of my works and formed a small crown for me just big enough to fit on my little finger.

Jesus came walking down a street of transparent gold and I watched as the saints dropped their crowns at His feet (Revelation 4:9). My heart broke when Christ came over to me. I fell to my knees and laid my tiny Crown at his feet. This crown represented the love I had for Christ; it symbolized how much I really cared. What kind of crown will you have to offer Christ after appearing before His Judgment Throne?

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