Heaven is one of those things I always held in the back of my mind. It was real, in the way that Mercury or Venus is real, but it's not like I'm going to see it any time soon, so what relevance does it have for me right now? It's fun to think about, but no one can honestly say what it's like.
Then I had a son who died, and heaven suddenly became real to me. Sometimes I'll be walking through a normal day, thinking about nothing in particular, and a flash will hit me--a vision of him running in a field and laughing, or climbing a tree. He would have had difficulty running or climbing here with his heart problems, but I know that in heaven he's happy, and healthy, and thriving. And one day I will arrive, and Christopher will greet me and show me around.
I've read novels lately, too, most particularly by Randy Alcorn, which feature heaven, and what a wonderful place it is. They've made me think about it in a different way.
I have to admit that as a teen and young adult I feared heaven. I thought it would be boring--standing around singing all the time. Not that I don't like worship; I actually really do. And to finally be able to find the harmonies all the time--that would be bliss! But it's not something I want to do for thousands and thousands of years. And then thousands after that. I want to knit. I want to talk. I want to explore.
And somehow those things never meshed with my view of heaven. I had too much of the popular culture image of haloes and white robes floating on clouds.
Recently my youngest daughter and I reread C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, the final book in the Narnia series, and reading his description of heaven made my heart beat a little faster, too. I love the imagery of "higher up and further in", as the children experience heaven to be like earth, only magnified so much better. They can run and climb much more easily. They can see and hear so much more acutely. They can experience colour, and wind, and beauty as if the senses are more finely attuned.
Personally, I think God has saved most of His creative power for heaven. As Keith Green used to sing, "In six days He created everything, but He's been working on heaven 2,000 years."
We have nothing to fear, and everything to look forward to. Sure, I worry about what relationships will be like in heaven. No marriage? Does that mean that we aren't close to our kids in the same way, too? But I think it's just that everything is so magnified that these kinds of special relationships aren't as key. Intimacy is felt with all, and though that seems like we are losing something special, in the end, we'll gain.
Here's a thought for you: the best friend you will likely ever have in your life you probably have not met yet. She may be some saint who died in 1247, but she was created especially for you. And one day you will meet her, and you will laugh together, and share so much. If you are lonely here, you will not be lonely forever.
As a speaker, I travel around and meet wonderful Christians for a night, or a weekend. I talk to many women who are so lovely, especially older women. And I long to sit at their feet and chat and share my heart, but there isn't time. But one day there will be, and often while I'm saying good-bye, inside I'm making a mental note to look her up in the hereafter, because that will be one of the blessings of dying in this life: really knowing so many with whom we only scratched the surface on this earth.
A few years ago a dear man in our congregation passed away. He was a stalwart in our church; so humble, and through his humility he exercised perhaps the best servant leadership I have ever seen in a church. He died three weeks after being diagnosed wtih cancer. Yet I know that he is having such a wonderful time now, and I am looking forward to seeing him, too.
It is often the older people that I get these "longings for heaven" with. I don't know if it's because their time on earth is shorter, or because we don't move in the same social circles, so it's harder to get to know them well on this earth. But often I see these lovely older saints, and I think to myself, "there's really no hurry. I will have an eternity with them", and I smile to myself. At times it's only a glimpse of someone, or the sound of their giggle, and I just know that here is a kindred spirit. But there's really no way of growing that relationship here. So I just add them to my list of those I will have such fun with on the other side.
And then, of course, there's Jesus. Can you imagine actually being able to talk to Him, and hug Him? Can you imagine being able to ask Him questions, to hear Him affirm you in words that reach your ears, and not only your heart. We were created just for that, and while that relationship begins here, it does not end. It will meet its fulfillment there.
I know life is often busy, and it has its frustrations and its disappointments. But I don't believe that this is our REAL life. This is temporary; heaven is eternal. This will pass away; heaven will not. In effect, heaven is the real, not this. That does not mean earth doesn't matter; what we do today has repercussions throughout eternity, and we were put here for a reason. But perhaps if we kept things in perspective, and realized that this is only for a time, there is so much more to come, we could endure our daily petty trials just a little bit better.
And in heaven, my dear readers, we'll be able to meet face to face, too! So introduce yourself to me, come on over, and we'll chat for a while, as we run higher up and further in. After all, we'll have all the time in the world.
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