Lately I’ve been pondering heaven. Maybe because according to AARP I am now a senior citizen and should be obsessed with all end of life matters. But it’s more likely because I have grandchildren who talk about heaven and how wonderful it will be someday.
Will it be wonderful? Will it be awesome? Will it be at all? Truth is, none of us knows for sure. Throughout history much has been written about heaven. Theologians have contemplated and expounded on paradise and eternal life in God’s presence for eons but the images of heaven most of us carry in our minds are those of a child. After all, pearly gates and streets of gold and billowy white robes are the stuff of nursery rhymes and fairy tales.
Let me be clear: I believe in a Creator. I believe in a Redeemer. I believe in a Sanctifier. I believe that the Creator made me from love; that the Redeemer saved me through love; that I am sanctified by the love the Creator and Redeemer have for one another.
That’s theologically heady stuff that as an adult I can embrace. But where is heaven and what is heaven? I’m afraid I am stuck with childish beliefs that don’t work for the grown up (old) me. My image of heaven has not been much different from that of my grandchildren. But I’m challenging myself to look at heaven in a new way.
So here’s my theory: (Assumptions being made for the existence of heaven and my ability to share in the experience). I believe that heaven is the ultimate manifestation of God’s love for us. I believe that in heaven when I am reunited with my loved ones it will be when the love we shared was the most sublime. I believe that I will encounter everyone in the state of being I most loved and they will likewise encounter me.
I will feel the comfort of snuggling in my mother’s arms as a small child. I will fun free in the woods with my best friend. I will once again experience the overwhelming beauty of seeing my bride walk down the aisle with the sun gleaming through the church windows. I will hold my newborn children in my arms and be overwhelmed by their awesome beauty and complete helplessness. I will laugh with my sons at scout camp and hug them tightly at basic training and the first day at University. I tell my daughter bedtime stories and kiss her soft cheek on her wedding day. I will play with my grandchildren at the beach and in the backyard and receive the sweet kisses that can melt even the hardest of hearts.
And how will others encounter me? I hope it will be at the happiest times. At times when peace and love was spoken without words.
So heaven may have streets of gold and angels and harps and clouds and unbelievable beauty and majesty but I’d rather be holding hands with my wife while walking down some quiet lane together reminiscing about the life we’ve shared. And I hope that in heaven she will encounter the man who is worthy of her love.
Now that would be eternal bliss…