A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on heaven, and having taken great delight in that post, I thought it may be worth spending more time on the subject in 2013. Each day this week, I will post an article with a few thoughts on the topic of heaven and my ideas, hopes, and expectations about it. I hope my reflections will be as pleasant for you to read as they have been for me to write.
As a Christian, I believe heaven to be a real place. While certainly not material nor discernible by our present scientific instruments, I believe that heaven exists in grandeur and magnificence far beyond anything our feeble minds can comprehend. I believe heaven is the place wherein God dwells in a visible form, along with those whose souls have passed from this material realm into the solely ethereal one; and I believe that upon my passing, I will be invited into this location, not by virtue of my own merit but due to my deeply-held and desperate belief in Christ Jesus as the Son of God and my personal savior, who came to earth as a human being to die so that many other human beings, unable to know God of their own accord, would be rescued from their own depravity, adopted into God's family, and brought into eternal communion with him. That is a large statement to deconstruct, and I won't do so here, but I wanted to assure the reader from where my hope comes in Christ. I don't believe heaven is the imminent end for all human beings, nor do I believe that is a place within myself (despite the popularity of both of these beliefs in our culture).
That being said, I have often thought of what I would do when I first arrive in heaven. I have had many thoughts about this over the course of my life, and my past conclusions were often silly or selfish, a category into which my current belief may also fall given time. Nevertheless, I shall share it.
When I first arrive in heaven, I believe I will spend the first million or so years simply kneeled at the feet of God, at his throne, in joyous and rapturous tears, overcome with gratitude to find myself there in front of Him. I know that Christians have assurance that if our repentance is real (a fact only God can judge), we are God's children, but in our present lives we still contend with fear and doubt. While on earth, we are trapped in conflict, and as near to Christ as we can be in the present, we are still separate from him in a sense. When first arriving in heaven, knowing that I am finally home--that my life was neither fruitless nor lived in vain, that I was not simply matter but soul, that justice is an ultimate reality that will be secured--having final, confirmed assurance that I am there, right there, that is my greatest hope and longing; and frankly, I really think it will take a million years or more just to express my thanks and praise and joy at my arriving.
I cannot express the deep peace I feel simply writing about that coming experience. Being in heaven, being with God, I am certain that I will lose sense of time--if there will even be such a thing (which I know by asking makes this whole post kind of silly--didn't I say something to that effect at the beginning?). To consider the fact that I will be in God's full presence--without my sin or my fallenness keeping me at any distance from him--well, just fills me with jubilant expectation. I can think of nothing more exciting or more valuable to desire. A deeper more direct relationship with God is what I want most in my existence; and when I have it, finally assured without separation, I will be eternally grateful, and I will spend a good deal of effort showing that gratitude (whether or not time exists). I could re-write those sentiments another dozen times with ever-more flowery language, but I will refrain for now and simply leave you with a question. If you believe you are going to heaven, what will be the first thing you will hope/expect to do upon arrival?
Tomorrow, I will discuss another aspect of my expectation for heaven, related not only to my relationship with God but with others.