‘You got to go through hell before you get to heaven’

You’ve probably heard others say, “You got to go through hell before you get to heaven.” It’s typically a general reference to people experiencing highly difficult circumstances before lavishing in extreme pleasure.

For those of my generation, you might scratch your head and ask, “Haven’t I heard those lyrics in a song?”

Indeed you have. The Steve Miller Band released the tune, “Jet Airliner” in 1977. The second verse contains these words:

Goodbye to all my friends at home
Goodbye to people I’ve trusted
I’ve got to go out and make my way
I might get rich you know I might bet busted
But my heart keeps calling me backwards
As I get on the 707
Ridin’ high I got tears in my eyes
You know you got to go through hell
Before you get to heaven

So why am I walking down memory lane with a pop band from my days in high school? … Allow me to explain.

A lifelong friend, John Buth, is reading my latest book, Jurisdiction: A Cop and a Pastor Talk About Life. He sent a text message that read, “I’m only a few chapters in, but great read so far. Love the content!!!”

So many details in the book reflect stories that contain “hell” as defined by many people; much in the same way the Steve Miller Band used it in the context of their song. Not a literal hell, but horrible circumstances that we relate to as “hell.” For instance, the awful events we routinely see in police work.


Yet, as the co-author of Jurisdiction, I knew my friend still had not reached the biblical doctrine of hell toward the end of the book before arriving at the final chapter, which outlines the magnificence of heaven.

As a result, I replied, “Affirmation from you means the most! Much appreciated. You’ll find the book goes through hell before arriving in heaven, but the final chapter on God’s eternal majesty will bring a sense of deep personal gratitude for your faith. … How is that for a tease?”


So, it’s my hope that I not only dangled the carrot in front of John, but also lured you into this very important conversation about living an abundant life. Eventually, we all face death. It is my sincere belief based upon solid evidence that we can have confidence in God’s offer of redemption and salvation. The reward for those who repent and believe is a blessed graduation to eternity in heaven. This topic is very important to me since police officers bury about 150 of their own from line of duty deaths annually.

You can look inside”and order Jurisdiction via Amazon. It is also available on Kindle.

Thank you for your consideration and be safe out there!

– Jim McNeff

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