This is probably going to sound a little weird, but through my Christian life I have always lacked an excitement or interest in heaven. It’s not that I don’t care at all, but I’ve probably been overreacting to other things — the fact that many people become Christians just for the assurance of heaven (“fire insurance”); this vision I have of grumpy old men in church, trudging through life singing “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” and just waiting for the day we can get out of this place and away from these people and to our secret club in the sky. It often seems selfish to me — singing about all the rewards and benefits we’ll get. The Bible says a lot more about us spending eternity worshipping God. People should focus on that, I’d think smugly. It’s also maybe been a little difficult for me to get excited about — it feels so distant, and so abstract at times. All we seem to have are ideas, and lots of false ones (e.g. harps, and wings, and becoming all-knowing). I believe in heaven, I’m thankful for it, but I’ve never been one to dwell on it much.
However, for some reason over the last few years, thoughts of heaven have started to force themselves on me. The ideas I read in scripture stick in my heart, and at just the right, healthy moments, they pop up. When we returned to America after our first few years overseas, for example, and I sadly realized we no longer fit in either place perfectly — my mind said, “You’re citizenship is in heaven.” Hm. I hadn’t really appreciated what that meant before.
I’m beginning to understand why people like to think, talk, and sing about heaven. I’m beginning to get what’s the big deal about it.
Imagine if this was all there was. Imagine if this was the best and the worst. You have these 80 years, give or take, and then – blackness. And what if you spent them in pain? In agony? What if you spend them childless? Cancerous? Homeless? And all that longing, all that aching, never had a hope. If it doesn’t get better now, it’ll never get better. If you don’t make this right, it’ll never be right.
Sometimes we feel like this is true. But for the follower of Christ, this is not true.
You do have hope.
Yes, you have hope that God will change your circumstances while on earth. He answers prayer and does amazing things. He has a plan for your life. But more than that — you have a standing hope and assurance that the end of the story is perfect. When you find your aching heart wondering, “When will this go away? When will this get better?” You have an answer: when I die or Christ returns, this will go away and get better. In heaven, it will be better.
Heaven is real, in time and place. It’s not just a nice idea. Your deepest longing will be fulfilled. Will you have the baby you didn’t have on earth? My understanding of scripture says probably not, but you will have your longing filled. Your aching will stop. Your joy will be full.
This is an amazing thought for us — most people and religions lack this concept (and all lack the assurance — some have the idea of a heaven, but don’t know if they’ll go there). My heart breaks for them. What a painfully hopeless life!
…That’s a tangent for another day. Today I want to encourage you to think about and grow your appreciation for heaven. We should have a balanced view — not living a life that is “so heavenly-minded that it’s no earthly good,” as I once heard a professor say. The Christian has heaven to look forward to, but a purpose to live on earth. Don’t check out yet. But if you’ve never allowed yourself to meditate on and accept the comforts of heaven, start opening your heart to it. Pray for a better understanding and a realistic hope.
Below are a few things (of many!) scripture says we have to look forward to in heaven. Would you take the time to appreciate what they really mean for you, in real life, today?
A citizenship and belonging – “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” -Philippians 3:20
A glorified, healed body – “…Jesus Christ, who will transform four lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” -Philippians 3:21
A beautiful, permanent home to live in – “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” -John 14:1-2
Endlessly worshipping the Lamb with all believers from all times and places – See Revelation 5:9-13
Comfort for your pain and mourning – “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
Who is going to heaven? Not the good people or those who had hard lives or deaths. Not the well-meaning, well-liked, or hopeful. If you read this post and love the idea of heaven but have any doubt that you’ll definitely be going there, I would love to chat with you more on the subject. Please message me using the “Contact” button at the top of the page.