Faith

‘There’s No Construction in Heaven’

Awful roadblocks may be everywhere we turn, but they need not hinder our spiritual growth

Spring, summer, fall and winter. Everyone knows the four seasons, and we love to debate which one is the best. But in Pennsylvania, we actually have a fifth season — and everyone despises it. It’s called “road construction season.”

Pennsylvania has more than 250,000 miles of roads. Every year when winter finally surrenders, road projects spring up across the state faster than flowers in the front yard. Speaking of flowers — have you heard the one about the Pennsylvania state flower? It’s fluorescent orange and says “Under construction” in bold, black letters.

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Road construction projects are everywhere right now in our state, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, and no one is exempt from detours and road blocks. Two weeks ago I dashed to my car on my lunch break, hoping to swallow a sandwich and accomplish a few errands before my next appointment. As I pulled out of the church parking lot, I couldn’t help but smile as the sunlight blazed through the windshield and the smell of freshly cut grass danced on the breeze. Windows down and radio up — what a great day!

But less than three blocks from my church, I was immediately halted by an army of orange cones standing like soldiers in the street. Sure enough, their general was with them — a burly PennDOT worker with a “Duck Dynasty” beard. In his tanned right hand, he gripped the Pennsylvania state flower: “Under construction.”

Three turns and half a sandwich later, I was on my way again. But you can imagine my frustration when less than a mile later, I came upon another construction project.

After a second agonizing delay, my sandwich, soda and sanity were nearly gone — and I still hadn’t accomplished one of my planned stops. Time was slipping away, so I gripped the steering wheel and followed the directed detour. I rounded a giant bend on the outskirts of town and started crunching the numbers in my head. If I hurry, I can still squeeze in two errands! But then it happened.

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A third road construction project.

Still, this experience wasn’t lost on me. Later that afternoon, when I opened my Bible and thought about my unaccomplished errands, I was reminded of three awful roadblocks that keep so many people from ever reaching heaven. What hinders their ultimate arrival?

Unabashed secularism is an awful roadblock that hinders us from reaching heaven.

1.) The cares of this world. In Matthew 13, Jesus instructs His disciples about two destructive forces that keep people from God and a vibrant spiritual life. The first is what Jesus calls “the cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22). Many people are so obsessed with the secular that they ignore the spiritual. To them, all that matters is the here and now. They never stop to think about God, eternity, or the condition of their souls; they’re too busy thinking about their careers, checkbook balances, and next weekend’s getaway.

Sure, they were touched by a recent Sunday service, but it wasn’t long before their thoughts returned to “the real world” on Monday. Unabashed secularism is an awful roadblock that hinders millions from reaching heaven.

2.) The deceitfulness of riches. Jesus mentions a second destructive force that always brings spiritual progress to a screeching halt: “the deceitfulness of riches.” What does money have to do with deception? Scripture says when people possess wealth, they slowly convince themselves they’re self-made and self-sufficient. If Americans can meet all their physical, emotional, and relational needs through cash, cars, and the latest clothes, then who needs God? Secularism has an ugly twin brother, named materialism — and it is a second roadblock that keeps people from experiencing eternal life.

3.) The pride of the heart. There’s something about the combination of vehicles and roads that won’t permit most men to ask for directions. “I’ll get us there one way or another!” he insists. Though he’ll never admit it, everyone knows it’s his pride that refuses to yield. Scripture says sinful pride is the natural inclination of every human heart — both men and women alike.

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Millions of people are convinced they can reach heaven through their good works, morality, or devotion to religion. They take pride in their achievements, yet pride is the ultimate roadblock. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6) and “For by grace you have been saved … and this is not your own doing” (Ephesians 2:8).

If these are the roadblocks, what is the true way forward? How does a person ultimately reach heaven? The Bible says that eternal life is found by putting one’s faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He alone is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The world, the wallet, and the power of the human will — they’re all dead-end streets.

A few months still remain in Pennsylvania’s infamous “fifth season,” but I’m ready for it now. I travel with a cold drink and a good book — in addition to my iPhone. But should another construction project spring up and surprise me, I can always rely on this one thought to put a smile on my face: There’s no construction in heaven.

Pastor Ryan Day is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he’s served for 18 years. He is a regular contributor to LifeZette.

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