1,000 Places to See Before You Die, a New York Times bestseller written by Patricia Schultz, catalogues a thousand unforgettable places on God’s green earth that showcase the “best the world has to offer.”1 Her contention is that you should visit these breathtaking locations before you breathe your last. You should travel to these areas before your soul travels to eternity. Behold the giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park, she says. Admire the intricate architecture of India’s Taj Mahal. Tan your hide on the baking beaches of Fiji.
Schultz affirms an indisputable truth: our planet is magnificently beautiful and indescribably stunning. As Louis Armstrong would say, “And I think to myself, What a wonderful world.” She also confirms a popular misconception held by thousands of people: this world is all there is, so you better see it all before you die. Van Halen used to sing about it: “Whoa, you don’t have to die an’ go to heaven, or hang around to be born again; Just tune in to what this place has got to offer, ‘cause we may never be here again.”
Frankly, I am more concerned about going to a better world when I die instead of seeing this whole world before I die. The Imperial Palace in Beijing is gorgeous, but it pales in comparison to the glorious mansions built in heaven for followers of Christ (John 14:2). Paris and Prague may be among the most elegant cities on earth, but they don’t compare to the eternal city, “whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). New Zealand’s splendid landscapes are unimpressive compared to the New City that will one day come “down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2). I don’t want to rendezvous among the most lovely countries on earth; I want to rest my soul in “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16).
This world is not all there is. In fact, this old world is “passing away,” and it will one day be “burned up and dissolved” (1 John 2:17; 2 Peter 3:10). Heaven is the place you want to be when you die, my friend. But you will only get there if your name is on God’s “guest list,” the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27).
How can you see and enter this heavenly place? Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). You must be made new to enter the city where all things are made new. This happens when you repent of your sins and trust fully in Christ for your salvation. When you do that, you’ll have your ticket to glory on Zion’s heavenbound ship.
- Patricia Schultz. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2003).
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).