Airline Terminals and Heaven

2241806475_c23d9a6047_mRecently our daughter, Carolyn, and I flew from Toronto to Vancouver and back.  While walking through the massive terminals at each end of the journey, I thought of these terminals again as symbols of our lives both while here on earth, and also in the hereafter.

Airline terminals surge with life and swarm with people of all ages, stations, ethnicities, and costumes. Everyone seems to be on a mission. Smiles are not common as they stand patiently in long lines, browse in shops, wearily scan newspapers, or catch naps in boarding areas.

Each activity is fleeting: The browsers soon move on. The sleepers come to life. Newspapers are scanned and left behind partially folded on empty seats. Lines move forward, or dissolve and then reform.

A notice over the public address system breaks into the background commotion, and people stir. They line up at what appears to be a break in the wall, show their tickets and disappear from sight, one at a time.

A little child may be fooled by their disappearance but we are not. We know that they have entered a long corridor that leads to a waiting airplane.

The travellers will be comfortably seated, their cases stashed overhead, and when flight attendants give the captain the signal that all is in readiness this enormous metal bird will taxi to the end of the runway and in no time will rise aloft, disappearing from sight.

Again, those of us who might be watching from the ground are not fooled by their disappearance. It is this constant vanishing from sight that takes passengers into the wide blue yonder. And it is this constant flow of arrivals and departures that make the vast terminals necessary.

The compressed “world” of the airline terminal can remind us, if we will allow it, that this earth, with its variety, beauty and allure, is nevertheless also our point of departure for a life beyond. And just as we know from experience that there is life beyond the break in the wall and the runway, so intuitively we sense that there is life beyond our present human existence.

It is God who plants that awareness in our hearts. We find it there either to take seriously or to reject and bury our futures in a dangerous uncertainty.

For those who take the life-to-come seriously, the New Testament shines with unusual brightness. It promises “life” and “eternal life” again and again as the result of our believing the Gospel. The word “life” here means more than a physical existence such as we have on earth – as great a gift as that is. It means a new and much greater quality of life that shines from the life to come back into our lives today, enriches our experience in the here-and-now and equips us for that larger, fuller life with God forever.

God gives us eternal life when we hear the Gospel and believe, heart and soul, in Christ Jesus as our Savior. It is a new mode of life and it is the supreme gift of the Gospel.  This life to come when we depart this earth is most commonly spoken of in the Gospel of John and in John’s first Epistle.

How could St. John have said it more crisply than he did: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life. And this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11,12).

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Image credit: Andrei Dimofte (via


2 thoughts on “Airline Terminals and Heaven

  1. Air terminals are an apt metaphor for our point of departure for Heaven,the fulfillment of God’s promise to us that we have eternal life in His Son,if we believe in Him.What a useful allegory, Pastor.

    I think it was in ‘The Joy of Tithing’ you shared with us that both you and Kathleen had converted to Christianity aged 16,having ,been raised up in Christian families.Since you still preach and a pastor never really retires,I think you must have pastored and been steeped in the Bible for very many decades.So you must have learned from the greatest exponent of parable and metaphor there has ever been – Jesus Himself.Parables,allegory,metaphors and similes are a very good way of helping people to understand an idea or concept.

    The air terminal metaphor certainly helps me.I especially like the metal bird dissappearing from sight into the blue yonder.Of course, though we can’t see the plane ,we still know it’s there.Just as we know the life beyond exists because God has implanted an awareness of the reality in our hearts.

    This weeks blog has given me much food for thought and sent me to John’s Gospel and to his first letter.

    Earlier this year I got a second hand 5 volume expositional commentary on John’s gospel :’The Gospel of John’ by James Montgomery Boice . I decided I really wanted to understand John’s Gospel this year ,helped by this commentary,by John Wesley’s New Testament Commentary , by Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Message’ and by J.B.Phillips Bible, translated for young people in wartime London.

    But I’m still on Volume 1 ,The Coming of The Light , in Dr Boice’s book. It’s about Light for every man.The next volume is about the mark of a Christian.

    Reading ‘Airline Terminals and Heaven’ sent me to John’s first letter.Today ,one week after Pentecost Sunday,we have Trinity Sunday,when we celebrate the three persons of God : Father,Son and Spirit.

    .In 1 John ,I found

    ”And it is the Spirit who bears witness because it is the Spirit who bears truth.

    For there are three that bear witness in Heaven : the Father,,the Word and the Holy Spirit : and these three are one” 1 John 5 :6 & 7

    I know The Word means Jesus and John’s Gospel starts with the Word.I like that Jesus is called the Word.I don’t know if this is what it really means,but I understand it like this.God has given us His Word that if we open our heart to Jesus and take Him in when he knocks ,we will have eternal life.

    So Jesus is God’s word to us that we shall be saved.,His eternal promise of redemption.Jesus is God’s Word to us.In Jesus we trust because He is God’s Word to us. And God keeps His Word.

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