My thoughts have been consumed with what heaven must be like at the anticipation of the coming days where we look back to all that led up to Jesus being crucified on the cross, his resurrection, to His heavenly ascension - Easter.
As Christians, we grieve the betrayal of our Lord. And maybe even silently wonder if our own voice would’ve joined in the mockery yelling, “Crucify Him!” We grieve the horrific pain, suffering, and torture He endured to the point of being physically unrecognizable. And then to have His hands and feet nailed to a cross and left to suffocate on a piece of wood - it makes me viscerally ill. It makes me want to turn my head. But for the love of all that He willingly endured, for the treasure of knowing He did that for me, for you, for even the ones that mocked Him and put Him there - For this reason, I’m determined to stare at the horror and face the uncomfortable, sick feeling I have. For the love of all He did, I will look upon the cross. Because today, we know what was coming three days later.
So, in celebration, we shout our wonder at His resurrection from the tomb through songs of victory and triumph over death. I’m just sure that God meant for Jesus’ resurrection & ascension into heaven be known by all so that we would have hope in the afterlife upon our own death and the death of our loved ones; that we would have assurance that we would live with Him in a place where there is no more pain, or disease, or heartache, or tears. We have so much hope in this, and we sing songs during this Easter season that say things like, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.” “Majesty! Worship His majesty! Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings.”
I can’t get these songs out of my head. And I wonder if my late husband is singing these songs along with me - Singing of Jesus’ infinite worth; proclaiming of the perfection of the King of kings; shouting “Majesty,” “Holy, holy, holy to the Lamb that was slain.”
I wonder if heaven is all stirred up! I wonder what it must be like. I’m just sure that others besides me wonder the same thing. What do you think? What do you think heaven is like for those we love who have gone before us?
E. M. Bounds said, "Heaven ought to draw and engage us. Heaven ought to so fill our hearts and hands, our conversations, our character, and our features, that all would see that we are foreigners, strangers to this world. The very atmosphere of this world should be chilling to us and noxious, its suns eclipsed and its companionship dull and insipid. Heaven is our native land and home to us. And death to us is not the dying hour, but the birthing hour!"
I’m still always pondering what is going on in heaven right now. Always wondering what Brian is experiencing. My earnest desire is to see what he sees today. To feel the power, the wonder of God’s majesty; to stand in the presence of His greatness with awe; to be filled and washed over with the light of God’s glory; to worship! What pure beauty that must be! Oh, to have but a glimpse. And as I’ve asked countless times, “May I, Heavenly Father? May I have a glimpse of the pure joy? The pure bliss! The completeness! May I feel the all-consuming love?”
Randy Alcorn has a lot of eye-opening things to say about present heaven and future heaven, which I agree with, in his book Heaven. He states that those loved ones who are currently in the present heaven are aware of, to some degree, the things that are going on here on earth. He believes that they are vitally interested in God’s Kingdom on earth, and are likely cheering us on in our service to the King.
He says, “The departing of Christian loved ones is not the end of our relationship with them, only an interruption. We have not lost them because we know where they are. They are experiencing the joy of Christ’s presence in a place so wonderful that Christ called it Paradise. And one day we’ll be brought back together in a heavenly reunion. How you think about Heaven today affects everything in your life - the way you prioritize love, relationships, how willing you are to sacrifice for the long-term, how you view suffering, what you fear or don’t fear.”
Now, as much as I love worship songs and love times of worship through singing, I’m convinced that this is not all we’re going to be enjoying in heaven. Somehow, somewhere, we got the idea that after we die we’re going to be floating on clouds singing hymns all day...and night…and the next day…and night. No wonder people are not too excited about getting there too soon. Now a little rest and relaxation on a puffy cloud does sound a little nice right about now, but I think this image is all wrong! I think God is way too creative for something as simple as that. What if heaven is better than your wildest dreams? That really would change how we view love, relationships, how we live, work, sacrifice - and death, wouldn’t it?
Most people can’t Imagine a spectacular, breath taking beauty, magnificent, fun heaven, and so they don’t live for it. What if it’s more than you could ever hope or dream? What if how you live now really does matter for the life to come? What if heaven is your best life? Without hesitation, I believe Brian is now..right now… experiencing another beautiful life…his very best life!
I mentioned earlier that on many occasions I long to experience the things my husband sees and experiences now. Like, I want to be in the presence of God’s amazing power and glory. I want to feel the love that is all-consuming. There’s a book I read early on called, Imagine Heaven, by John Burke. In it, he talks about many years of research and data collected from people who have had near death experiences. Now, I have now idea about all this, the accuracy of it all, but one thing I’m intrigued about is the way most people described being in God’s presence. One person said it was a living Light that feels like Love coming out of all that is beautiful.” Many people said they felt an overwhelming, all-consuming love that enveloped them - a love so deep, so intense, so personal like you’ve never been able to experience on earth. When asked to describe their surroundings, they said, “The grass is the greenest grass you could ever imagine, and the most beautiful, alive flowers - all consumed with the light and life. There are colors not seen before, and a pure light all around and within and part of me that lights up everything everywhere."
This aligns with Revelation 21:23 that says, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”
Now, when Randy Alcorn was talking about the future heaven, the prospect of living there gets even more exciting…if that’s even possible. Future heaven will be when Jesus comes back down, creating a new earth on which He will reign with all His people. And this time, it will be something more recognizable to what we see and know here on this earth, except everything will be perfect and pure…no sin…no brokenness…no disease…no sadness…just love…and perfection…and goodness. We will create, and eat, and explore, and build, and learn, and enjoy. We will work, but it will always be the kind of work when everybody does their very best, with the very best mindset, attitude, and productivity, and everybody enjoys one another’s company. And then everyone goes home happy with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
I’m looking forward to that. How about you?
But none of this is possible for us to experience if Jesus had not come to earth to die on a cross, offering himself as a sacrifice for our sin - a substitution - and letting us go free. When He arose from the tomb and ascended into heaven, He said, “I go and prepare a place for you.” Can you let your imagination run wild now with the beauty and wonder of all that awaits you there? Can you begin to think of - and even long for - the things that your loved ones who have passed away are now experiencing?
As we approach this resurrection Sunday - Easter - can you imagine all of heaven on that day erupting in glorious worship and ecstatic praise?
How will you respond here on earth?
I know what I will do: With all of heaven and the saints that have gone before me - my Brian - I sing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Worthy is His name. Glory to the Son, Christ Jesus - The Messiah - The Risen Lamb of God.