Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Everybody talkin bout Heaven ain't goin there

Almost every single day, my mind runs across an idea for a blog post.  I love blogging because it's a way to unload all of that information and it's a form of therapy and reflection for me.  Unfortunately, my time (and children) rarely permit me to post all of the ideas in this noggin of mine.  Hopefully one day I can give it more time, because I love it, but for now I'm happy with my lot in life and would rather be spending time with my kids (or napping ~ hey, I'm pregnant!).  All that to say that today's post is something that's been floating around in the space between my ears for quite some time.  It keeps coming back in, so I'll let it fly out today.  One kid's in a benedryl coma, and the other's fixing me a snack in her play kitchen.  :)

What is your view of heaven?  What do you think it will be like?  Me, I've always pictured it as a beautiful, golden place full of singing, happy people who have been reunited.  God and Jesus are both sitting on thrones, but I've always thought of heaven as more about the people with whom we'll spend eternity in perfect health, with perfect relationships, perfect bodies, everything perfect.  I'd get to see my grandfathers and some friends again, and maybe even get to have conversation with some of the famous Bible people.  Picturesque, right? 

A friend mentioned to me once that her heaven would be full of animals because she loves animals.  And some people may think that it'll be like living in a vacation with beautiful blue waves crashing on the white sandy beaches.  Or what about an eternal day at the spa, with massages and pedicures at every hour on the hour.  For someone with a physical handicap all their Earthly life, heaven may be an eternal marathon where he can run and run and run, something he's never before experienced.  A kid may think of heaven as Willy Wonka's factory, full of chocolate rivers, lollipop forests, and roads graveled in Nerds (I could totally get used to that ~ ha!). 

There's a problem with all of this, though.  We make heaven about us.  Like we deserve it.  While I can't give you many specifics about what it will be like, I can assure you that you won't be the center of it all.  Neither will I, or any other man or woman that has ever walked this Earth....except ONE.  Only by the mercy and grace of God will we be able to experience anything other than death, and while I am most certain that heaven will be grander than anything I've ever even thought about imagining, I know for a fact that only He and His son will be at the center of it all.  There may very well be all of the things I listed in the previous paragraph, but I choose to focus on the fact that I'll be there with Jesus and His Father, MY Father, and I will FOREVER praise and glorify them!  WOOH!  Gives me chills to think about it.  Truth be told, I could care less if there's anything there that I deem on Earth as "heavenly".  His heaven will be so much more than my feeble mind could attempt to picture.  He loves me, loves you, and He will have the most spectacular place for us, but as true Christians, our heart's desire should be to eternally praise Him for who He is, what He's done, how He's loved, what He deserves.  Let's focus on THAT instead of what we think Heaven will be like or even who we will see there.  We get to worship God, the Father, and ALL His glory!

Eternity will be spent with those we've loved and known who are Christians, I have no doubt.  I also firmly believe that we will know them from Earth, only with a new, more perfect understanding which will enhance our relationship.  I also think that all of those "did Adam have a belly button" questions we've been thinking about all of our earthly lives will immediately be answered and we'll just know.  Of course, who will care about such trivial things when we're in the presence of the Most High?  We won't be ALL-knowing, because only God is omniscient, but our knowledge and understanding will be so much greater than it is on Earth.  We will spend eternity learning more about God.  Can you imagine how much there is to know that even with an eternity we will never fully know?  WOW!  And we will see Him.  FACE.  TO.  FACE....

I recently read a sermon in which the pastor talked about a study at an Ivy League school that indicated that a baby's experience at birth is highly traumatic and is more than likely the most traumatic thing they will go through in their lives.  (Good thing their memory ain't that great at that point, huh?)  The trauma is likened to the trauma of death.  He goes on to say that just as a baby knows no other surroundings other than the womb for the first 9 months (give or take) of its life, we don't know the surroundings outside of our lives as humans until we die.  Think about it....  A baby doesn't have any clue that there's the Grand Canyon out there, Niagara Falls, a sun, a moon, stars, any other tremendous beauty or wonder, because he can't see it nor can anyone tell him about it.  He only knows the comfort of his mother's womb.  Can you imagine the vastness of heaven in this respect?  As if we are still in a womb and must die to get "out" into our eternal world?  Pretty cool way to think of it, huh?  Why do we mourn, then, when loved ones who we know will spend eternity with Jesus enter into this new "birth"?  Do we mourn at a baby's birth into this life?  I guess it depends on the baby's parents, right?  KIDDING!  Kinda.  ;)

It's still hard to lose someone, though, and I'm not saying we shouldn't mourn the dead.  It's our human instinct to do so.  It's part of the reason there is pain in this world - pain that came when sin entered the world so many years ago.  We should take comfort in knowing that we'll see them again if we know that we will.  If we don't know if we'll see a loved one again when we die, we should press that issue with an urgency like no other while we still have time.  We tend to comfort ourselves with the idea of seeing a loved one again in heaven, but we shouldn't think that will be the epitome of heaven.  I read about old-school Calvinist clergy who would assert that in heaven, a husband "would be so enraptured with the Lord Jesus that [his wife] might be at his side for ages before he would think of looking at her.”  Can you imagine?

The Bible doesn't lend much description of what Heaven will actually be like, but we do know that "..No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Cor 2:9.  I don't know about you, but that makes me pretty excited!  And for those envisioning the beach and ocean in heaven..."Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea." Rev 21:1.  I mean, I'm not saying there won't be a beach, maybe the passing of the sea is a metaphor or something, but I bet there will be something way more glorious and awesome in our new heaven and earth to entrance us.  :) 

Praying right now that everyone who reads this will know that they know that they know that heaven is in their future.  If not, cry out to God before another second passes.  He'll show you how to fix that so we can hang out in the afterlife.  Oh look!  My snack seems to be ready.  :)

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