Life is heavy. Just recently in our community we had the scary incident with the West Valley football players, where a couple of the teens almost drowned. In national news, we saw two mass shootings back to back. Death is the ultimate enemy. And, despite our healthy appearance, we are like cut flowers; it’s just a matter of time. I’ve read that someone in the world dies every three seconds. We are a world desperately in need of hope beyond the grave. I believe that the ultimate hope is found in Jesus Christ, both for the here and now and the hereafter. The older I get the more I think about the breathtaking promise of heaven for Christians. Jesus told us before he left Earth that he would “prepare a place for us” (John 14:2,3).
Once a year, I return to Indianapolis to see my family. I stay with my parents, and my mom “prepares a place for me.” She will plan activities for my kids, make my favorite foods and, in general, do everything she can to help me feel loved and welcomed. This is a glimpse of what the believer will experience in heaven. It’s a prepared place for God’s children. Let’s take a quick look at what awaits us in heaven.
Heaven is a place of reunion. I openly admit I am a sucker for those videos where a soldier has been deployed for a year and then he or she comes to their kid’s school and surprises them. Those videos get me every time. There are many Christian friends and family members that I have lost to death that I am looking forward to seeing again. My grandfather had a profound impact on my life; I can’t wait to hug him again and see him alive, healthy and vibrant. I know many women who are looking forward to meeting their children that they lost in miscarriage. We Christians obviously still grieve when we lose someone to death, but it is a different kind of grief because we have the certainty that we will see them again.
Heaven is a place of restoration and renewal. In Revelation 21, we are told that, after the return of Jesus Christ, the current heaven will receive a massive expansion and there will be a “new heavens and new Earth.” It appears that there will be a renewed and restored creation. It’s like Easter for all of creation. Our home will be a place of unspoiled beauty that we can explore. Part of this restoration is that we will receive new resurrection bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Patients who moan from chronic pain will experience the joy of a new, pain-free body. Senior citizens will do cartwheels again. There will be continuity with our old bodies and yet remarkable transformation. In nature, the mysterious process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly might be a little God-given hint about our future. The curse of sin is gone and humanity is restored fully. In heaven, there are no more tears of grief, regret or shame. In heaven, every person you interact with will be trustworthy. No more betrayal and relational pain. We will be perfect!
Heaven is a place of pleasure. Author Scot McKnight says, “Heaven is designed for those who relish pleasures and long for more.” One pleasure is that we will be rewarded for the moments of truth, fidelity, love and commitment in this life. Jesus repeatedly stressed that God sees how we live and that we will be rewarded for the good that we have done. The missionary who labors for years and doesn’t see evangelistic success will be acknowledged. The prayer warrior whose greatest contribution is behind the scenes will be commended. The good you do echoes in eternity. I think God will draw all the lines to all the pictures of your impact so you can see the full difference you made in this life. But the greatest pleasure is experiencing God fully. In this life, we have a relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. Despite the joy of the relationship we are offered with God here, there is more to be experienced. There is more to discover. God is infinite and majestic. Knowing God fully will truly take an eternity. God will intrigue and surprise us forever. C.S. Lewis said of heaven: “Chapter One of the great story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Whatever you are facing today, please hear God whisper, “All will be well.” Today, embrace the living hope of heaven.
Pastor Derek Dickinson is the pastor of Journey Christian Church. Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference.