We live for heaven, right? You’d think that most Christians believe that heaven will be amazing – no pain, no loss, no sorrow. Or maybe it’s just me. In my mind’s eye, heaven is something we simply cannot imagine. And I imagine that when we get there, it will be like a dream come true.
But the more I think about it, the more I know that whatever I think about what heaven will be like is just so wrong; and then I wonder if we are even looking in the right places for our hopes for heaven, even with the many pictures and portrayals that exist out there.
In his book ‘The Meaning of Marriage’, Timothy Keller writes about the importance of encouraging your spouse to become more like his/ her future heaven-self. He describes how, even though we are still sinful humans, we will catch glimpses of that heaven-self as we allow ourselves to be shaped more and more by God here on earth.
I love the idea that life is like a curtain in the wind, and that every now and then, it reveals the beauty and strength of heaven in a flappy, random kind of way, sometimes when we are least expecting it. The thing is, we need to be looking to catch a glimpse of that; we need to be conscious of what is happening.
I’ve just finished reading Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”, and – without wanting to spoil anything for those who haven’t read it yet (you should, it’s incredibly inspiring!) – when he talks about living our lives as a story, and how he hardly ever watches TV now, after endeavouring to spend his time creating his own story rather than watching other peoples’, it seems even more logical that we can only see heaven if we create opportunities for heaven to be revealed to us.
One thing I have come to believe in is that heaven is not a place; it’s community. It’s when seven people gather to give three people with disabilities the chance to get some horse riding as a way of therapy – as well as having some fun (yes, I nearly made a fool of myself tearing up as I watched). It’s when someone takes the time and energy to support another, and that other person accepts the support and allows that someone to grow spiritually. It’s enjoying nature together, caring for one another and including everyone into a circle of people that could very easily be discriminatory in a world full of hurt. And, no, the hurt doesn’t just disappear just because someone does something nice. But then, perhaps it is even more remarkable that in the midst of all the sorrow and brokenness, God can shine through and lift us up. Relief can only exist alongside pain, but there is a beauty to its sweetness that goes beyond words.
There is a heaven awaiting us because we live in this broken world. But heaven is not merely a ‘reward’, if that’s what we want to call it; it is our home. So go on, invite others into your home. Wrestle with the shadows within that curtain, but remember that behind the curtain, there is a light that will fill your days here on earth in the most unexpected, beautiful ways.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5