A friend of mine asked what heaven would be like. I just assumed it would be a wonderful place. Certainly, there are scriptures that talk about it, but how are they relevant to you and me? When we go to heaven through death or through the rapture, what will it be like to be in heaven?
My first response is to think that heaven is not so much what I do there but what I will experience. No, I do not expect to sit on a cloud and play a harp. There is no Bible verse that supports that in the Old or New Testament. Think about somebody that means so much to you. You will do things with them. However, the enjoyment is not what you do. The enjoyment is being with that person because the person is so important to you.
What if you were in a burning house and had no way to get out. Then suddenly a rescuer came to bring you to safety at the cost of his own life. You would be so appreciative of that person. In the same way, Jesus gave his life by conquering death through his resurrection. I believe that I owe everything to Jesus. What a magnificent thing it will be to express praise and thanks that I have a wonderful place where to go after I am out of this body and be with him.
An additional way to think about this is for the fellowship we could have with the Almighty Creator. Everything that came to be is a result of his creative act. That would be so significant to fellowship with him who is responsible for a universe that is far, far away from earth. Look into the sky at night. Squint your eyes to see the most distant star possible. How wonderful to have a close relationship with the person that made that star. What a great opportunity it would be to talk with him, to ask him questions, and to hear his answers!
The Old Testament mentions life after death as joining those who have been departed. It talks about being with fathers and family. I must confess that those that were important to me in life are even more important to me now that they are gone. It will be so wonderful to talk with those I have known and respected and loved. My broken heart will be mended. There will be no sadness or crying in heaven. Those feelings of missing someone will be resolved. What a celebration it will be to fellowship with loved ones.
The Bible talks of joining with God. Even though I know Jesus as my personal Savior, there is still a distance I feel. There is an incompleteness caused by me still dwelling in my human flesh. There is a boundary between him and me. There is a frustration that I feel because I cannot communicate with loved ones. My emotions, my longing will be satisfied in heaven. I will be a complete person. I will be complete because all of those desires that have been unanswered will be addressed.
Then I look at myself in this feeble body. Regardless of age here in this earthly society, there are things wrong with our physical existence. As an old man, I have old man diagnoses given to me by doctors. Medications and treatments are only capable so far to help me. I think of my mother who developed gangrene in her legs. Ultimately, she had to have both of them removed above her knees. The doctor said that she would have no quality of life. But let me tell you something. She has the highest quality of life now possible! She is a healed, healthy woman. I can just imagine her running up and down in heaven, talking with angels, and expressing that precious smile she had on earth.
In the book of Revelation, John attempts to describe what God’s throne looks like. He talked about tremendous colors. He saw the sea of glass so pure. There will be singing with worship and expressions of joy to be in God’s presence. Recall that time that you were with a large group of people celebrating. Maybe it was when your favorite football team won against all odds. Maybe it was a concert when every tone of music thrilled your soul. Maybe it was at the birth of a child when physical hardships dictated that birth would never occur and even the doctor shouted with joy for a healthy baby. None of the joy and rejoicing that we experience here is equal to what we will experience standing around God’s throne.
As to what we will do in heaven, there is a partial answer. The Bible says that the city of heaven will be joined with earth. There will be an established community. People will function in their assigned roles as the result of God’s decision. Some people will actually live in that city while others will live surrounding it. We will live on a new earth refurbished by God’s goodwill and love. Jesus described it this way, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Whatever that place would be, Jesus would not fall short of making it something you will be glad to experience.
Forget the cloud and harp routine. Ask yourself what heaven would be like if you made it. What would you cause it to be? How would you reward those that are faithful and true to you? What would be your ideal and the best way to live forever. What would be the ingredients they would give you eternal happiness? Whatever you answer me, you will fall far short of what God has planned. There may be joys or sadness that you experience in this life. Heaven is a place where they will be resolved in a positive, glorious way. Those that believe in Christ should consider themselves pilgrims on this earth seeking a better land. What there is in heaven is far better than anything this earth could provide. The greatest thing of all, is that Jesus made this possible. We do not have the need for personal reformations or good intentions. What Jesus did on the cross was to pay a price that we could never afford.
Heaven is not a place to go and become an angel. They already exist as a result of God’s creative act. By accepting Jesus as personal Savior, we will become glorified saints. Those who have gone before us in death are not intercessors between us and God. They are already busy enjoying their life in heaven. Jesus is our only intercessor between us and God the father. We pray to Jesus, and he hears us. He is our celestial representative.
Yes, there are mysteries and unanswered questions about heaven. But that is the exciting part of it! The anticipation of going to heaven is a great adventure in the direction where to go. It provides purpose and meaning to this life so that whatever we experience now becomes incidental to where we are going. If I do not see you on this earth, I will look forward to meeting you in heaven.