Pastor Eleazar Siebenhor rested in the hammock after a long day of ministry in the hot Guatemalan jungle. With one foot on the ground rocking the hammock back and forth, he sipped some cool fruit juice.
As we chatted, a young man emerged from the backyard, dragging a net full of coconuts.
“You know,” Pastor Eleazar reflected, “my dad planted those fruit trees behind the house, but he never lived to see the fruit.”
Pastor Eleazar’s dad planted seeds decades before, but somehow, on that day, this country girl from many miles away in north Alabama got to partake of the fruit.
Being in the middle of a mission trip to Guatemala, that imagery hit me hard. We were out there daily, telling people about Jesus and watching them respond to Him. It was a total rush!
But Pastor Eleazar’s dad began the hard work of laying the foundation for ministry in the communities where we served long before I was ever born. Again, he planted the seed, but somehow, by the grace of God, I got to witness the harvest.
Honestly, I wondered if Pastor Eleazar’s dad could see us. From a bird’s eye view in Heaven, did he know his ministry continued through his son and his grandchildren? Was he aware a handful of volunteers came all the way from the United States simply because we love Jesus and want to continue on with the mission he started?
At that moment, it sort of seemed unfair if he couldn’t see all the good springing up from the work he started.
On the other hand, if he were aware of the good happening here, wouldn’t he see the bad as well? That seemed even more unfair.
But it’s true.
When we put sentiment aside and look to Scripture, we find people in Heaven do have some knowledge of things taking place on Earth — both good and bad.
Here’s what we know they know: According to Luke 15:10, when someone begins a relationship with Jesus, Heaven knows about it.
Indeed, many an excited Christian misquotes this passage by saying the angels rejoice over one sinner who repents. But upon careful examination of the verse, we see rejoicing is going on in the presence of the angels.
As recipients of redemption, the saints are the ones full of joy at the change in spiritual status of even one on Earth. The angels are simply spectators — although I’m sure they do their own fair share of rejoicing in God.
In contrast, saints in Heaven perceive persecution as well. Revelation 6:9-11 records a conversation between God and martyrs. They ask Him when He will avenge their blood. So they are not only aware of how they died, but they also know the persecution of believers continues on Earth.
At times, those in Heaven even fathom future events. In Luke 9:30-31, Moses and Elijah return to Earth to talk with Jesus about what He would endure in Jerusalem. They encouraged Him because they knew the magnitude of what He was about to accomplish.
So does that mean Grandma and Grandpa have ringside seats, watching every single thing we do? I don’t think so. That thought is a bit unsettling!
However, to think Heaven is completely uninterested in the unfolding drama of redemption on planet Earth is a bit unreasonable as well.
Pastor Eleazar’s dad knows each and every time one of his beloved Guatemalans comes to know Jesus. He is aware others toil alongside his family to carry on the good work that began in him. Although his race is complete, I imagine he is intensely interested in the way we run ours — harvesting the fruit from the seeds he planted.
I’ll bet he’s even cheering us on.