Heaven For Real People

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about heaven recently.

Because, honestly, this world is a tough place.

A family friend is fighting for his life in a Boston hospital.  Other friends are facing all kinds of trials – difficult relationships, divorce, single parenthood, losing a child, depression and psychosis, debilitating health problems, kids that have been abused…the list goes on and on.  It’s tough to keep hope alive with a broken heart.

So, when you sit there in a hard plastic hospital chair holding your tears back, the hope of heaven becomes a precious thing.  This life?  It can be hell.

And because this planet is all we know, it’s easy to forget that heaven is real.  Maybe, then, it’s a gift to be cracked open and vulnerable, to ache with longing for a perfect world where “every tear will be wiped away.”  If the suffering that fractures our hearts drives us deep into the hope of eternity…then it’s not for nothing.
When your heart breaks for the brokenness in this world, in another person, in your own story…GOOD, because we haven’t arrived yet.  Not by a long shot.  In fact, Jesus points to the hope of heaven as a reality that can fuel our days here on earth.  (John 14).

And yet, are you bored by the whole idea of heaven?  I was.

Aimlessly floating on a cloud in some dreamy place for all of eternity doesn’t really excite me.  Honestly, the idea of a million-year nap is WAY MORE EXCITING TO ME.  Stretched out and sleeping for as long as I want?  Deal!  But really…what are we looking forward to, if it isn’t anything better than a good day here on earth?  Friends, I have great news:

Heaven is to earth what a 10 course meal is to a greasy sack full of fast food.  There’s just no comparison.

We’ll see that the junkie’s high and the gambler’s rush and the sex addict’s orgasms and the politician’s power addiction and the celebrity’s fame and the gourmand’s delight is nothing but a flitting shadow, a weak and anemic thing compared to the pleasures of heaven.  Our problem, C.S. Lewis reminds us, is not that we are too difficult to satisfy, but that “we are too easily pleased.”¹

Heaven won’t be the clichéd strumming-on-harps-endlessly bit.  I can guarantee it.  It won’t be what you think…  It will be the best thing you can imagine, times 100 million.  Your synapses will explode with colors, sensations, sounds, smells, tastes that will blow away anything this earth can offer.

This is the great hope of the Christian – whether we live for a hundred years or mere moments. 

  • When this world is filled with disappointment, we don’t have to despair.  We’re not home yet.
  • When people let us down and relationships disappoint…don’t forget, we’re still in a fallen world with sin-crushed people.  Better things are in store, because…we’re not home yet.
  • When it feels like a marathon, or a battle, or some endurance test…it is.  This life is growing things in us like grit and courage and compassion and resilience and genuine love for others.  But it’s not our final destination.  We’re just not home yet.

If we want to know what heaven will be like, we need only look at the character of God to get a good idea of what’s in store.  In Scripture, we are given a picture of a God who is wildly creative, profoundly compassionate, deeply relational, passionately just, and categorically magnificent.  He is authoritative.  He is kind.  He does not suffer pompous fools lightly.

He’s the beauty in the sunrise and the strength in a soldier’s arms.  He’s the gentleness in a mama’s lullaby, the sweet vulnerability of soft newborn cheeks, the fierce wildness of an untamed frontier. 

Hang in there, friends.  There is so much beauty and joy and utter delight ahead, just waiting for the Christ follower.  A day is coming – what a glorious day! – when we’ll see it all fully, sharply, distinctly.  We will see with the utter clarity we’ve missed all our earthly lives that Jesus is beautiful. 

That His heart was always for us, and that He is all goodness, and that there is nothing, NOTHING in all the heavens and the earth that can ever come anywhere close to Him.

Heaven is more than a final destination – it is a the climax of a fully restored relationship with God.  Heaven is beautiful, because Jesus is beautiful.  Heaven is only for the Christ follower, because Jesus is the ONLY way to know God, the only way to know lasting peace, and the only way to get to heaven.

Hospital beds, messy relationships, and all the cruelty of this life will be swept away in one moment and we’ll see the face of God as clearly as He’s seen us all along.

And until that day arrives, let’s be busy about our Master’s work – doing justly, loving mercy, walking humbly before Him. (Micah 6:8).  Because some day, when you’ve run your race well, fought the last fight, and endured to the bitter end…
 
You’ll be HOME.
Grace, peace, and better-things-in-store,

 

¹C.S. Lewis: The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses.

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