Confession: Sometimes I think everything that is wrong with me can be summed up in this pithy statement (gravediggers and headstone carvers take note): She had no idea what to think about heaven.
I’m not even going to begin to delve into the history of my confusion surrounding the afterlife –
- my early misunderstandings of Scriptural imagery
- the hot and heavy controversy into which I was born regarding the prefixes a- and pre- and everything in between
- the enlightened new teaching I slogged through as a teenager
- a few fiction fantasies that failed to convince
- and the very disturbing book of Revelation, which so far I do not understand although I have tried (believe me) extremely hard.
Oops. I delved.
I’ve read the words of Christ, I’ve read Lewis and Alcorn (not to put them on the same level with Him or anything), I’ve read accounts of the afterlife by survivors (nor them either, some of whom may be spoofing), and to be honest, when I come to the end of all my reading I see that I know less than I did. I am almost convinced that that is the point of the original scripts: to create a yearning for what will be, while drawing sketch lines and a veil around what will be. I have yet to find a description that captivates my heart – other than – WITH CHRIST.
Which I know, one hundred percent, will be enough.
I would like to hear from you. What formed your ideas of heaven? How did you learn what you know? To what books, people, or other resources could you point me for greater understanding?
Brringbrring. Calling all knowledge of heaven.
This may be a party line, but no fighting, please.
Header art created by my daughter Kelly.
Well if you need to be enlightened about the aformentioned prefixes I can fix you up. I took Revelation with Russ at MBS after all. Remember? Ahemm. Maybe shouldn’t have mentioned that.
Well sure! And that clears up the confusion how, exactly? ????
Maybe my heart is too easily captivated, (is that another definition of naive?) but besides WITH CHRIST when I read of No tears! That means no disappointments or longings!! They’ll all be met! …of a garden where flowers never stop blooming, that’s enough to sell me… I can spend hours pouring over Pinterest gardening and know that mine never turn out like the pictures but in heaven? They’ll be splendor-ific!Glorious! Plus we get to sing full time w perfect pitch in amazing out-of-this-world harmony!!! Just the perfection! Not a single imperfection or unholy thing will be found! That captivates me right off!!
A heart captivated by Christ is a beautiful thing. ❤ Thank you.
I’m sorry I forgot to say where I learned or formed my knowledge of heaven… I’d have to say… a mixture of a husband who loves to study and discuss the book of Revelation…the book “Imagine Heaven” with many real life (near death) experiences and visions, and many wonderful hymns & songs I’ve sung in church and choirs. Along with nothing like having the raw grief of losing a dear loved one to make you dig in and study even more. To know what they’re experiencing and where they are…,
I relunctantly joined our large group women’s Bible study on the book of Revelation. I say relunctantly because many times they use books by popular false teachers for their study.
Anyway, I joined the Revelation study when they were studying chapters 20-22 using the book called Escape the Coming Night or something like that by Dr. David Jeremiah. It was an interesting study though I respectfully disagreed with Dr. Jeremiah on some issues.
Since we are talking about heaven, I have several hymnals with my favorite one being Hymns of The Church. I use a hymnal for my quiet time and I keep hoping there will be singing in heaven. I want to stand next to great singers like The Eshes or Vera Overholt who can drown out my off key singing. I would hate for the Lord to cover His ears saying ” Oh the horror!”
Regina, I believe heaven is all perfection. We’ll have new bodies which also means new voices, does it not? I think the Lord will be pleased to hear your voice as much there as He is here! He told Moses that He made him the way He wanted him, so I’m sure He’s done the same for you! 🙂
I like your picture of us in glory as we are. 🙂 I hope for some serious redemption of my own flaws, but sometimes the flaws of others endear them to me. I can promise you this: He will never cover His ears when you sing to him. ❤ Thank you for making me laugh.
Last night I went back into my children’s room and picked up my baby for just a few more snuggles before bed. It makes me so sad how fast they grow up, and as he held my finger in his sleep, I thought “I sure hope God has some eternal babies to snuggle with in heaven.” ????
I have no wise knowledge of heaven but what excites me about it is Perfect Love, Perfect Relationships and no bad breath. No conversations being hindered with this thought in the back of my mind, I wonder if my breath smells bad to others? Oh the glory of knowing I am loved and having others KNOW I love them!!( No earthy lies tossed in) ‘Even so ,come Lord Jesus’
There’s a story about a new Christian who was told to begin reading the Bible, but wasn’t given any direction of what book to start in. When a friend asked him awhile later, “How’s it going? Are you reading your Bible?”
He answered, “It’s great! I’m reading Revelation.”
The friend kind of gulped and asked, “Are you understanding it?”
“Oh, yes! Well …. there are some things I don’t understand, like the candlesticks and horses and dragons and stuff like that.”
“Then what do you understand?”
“God wins! I got to the end of the book and found out
That story gave me a different perspective of the book of Revelation. It’s not that complicated. :)The other memory I have is Maranatha Bible School during Wednesday noon hour. (Fast day) Urie Sharp had us stand and each take a turn reading a verse beginning at Revelation 1. He was claiming the blessing promised in
Revelation 1:3 . Another story about heaven that makes me long to go there is “Karen” an episode in Odessey.
Don’t get me wrong. Life here is sweet and gets better all the time. But we haven’t seen anything yet!
Here are 3 quotes that I have loved for many years.
1) C.S. Lewis wrote, “Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it–made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.”
2) Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” and “I go to prepare a place for you”.
3) Gerard Manly Hopkins wrote,
” I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.”
4) More recently, since I have come to know firsthand people who are treated unjustly because they live on streets with bad reputations, I have come to love the phrase, “where the streets have no name” from U2. I don’t care for the rest of the song, I just love that one phrase. I think heaven will be a place where there is no injustice.
As a child, I thought heaven was kinda suspended above the church we attended. Would we sit and sing ALL the time??
Oh yes, Jesus would be there, and lots of flowers. I dreamed of playing in warm snow, walking on water, breathing in it…
As a young adult, I mostly avoided Revelation, because I have an active imagination and a decent amount of anxiety at the thought of persecution. A lot of deep angst at the question of whether I would be faithful or cave. To be honest, that still lurks around the dark corners in my mind sometimes. The thought alone of eternity is enough to make my hair stand on end.
In the last number of years, though, I long for heaven more because of Who is there. When we sing “Just Over Yonder” and get to the phrase, “and hear a welcome ring out through heaven, ‘Oh weary pilgrim, this is your home!’ I just LONG for that moment.
I love Alcorn’s thoughts and the way he depicts heaven. I look forward to our forever home-the place we were made for. A place of worship, delight, constant discovery, perfect, yet growing relationships, endless beauty, creativity…
Oh Jesus, to be in your presence always, with no earth clouds between…
I imagine the wonderful feelings of staying up all night talking to a close friend, when you notice that it’s starting to get light out and you’re tired, but also full of thankfulness. I also imagine a lot of rest, in pillowy coziness, or else laying in the sun. I think of being given just the right thing to read, then stopping and excitedly or lazily pondering, and then maybe being given something else.
But these are fleshly desires, and that utterly confuses me. If we’re made perfect, how can we enjoy our perfection without having the ‘I know I’m weak’ part? And like everyone says, nobody wants hymns 24/7. If I do, is it still me?
About favorite things to read about heaven, it’s always been the same since I was 13 or so:
The prophets in the Bible certainly shaped my view of heaven, as well as the eschatological parts of the NT, and then NT Wright, and Lewis. Some of my thinking and reading in the Bible and out has led me to change what I thought of heaven, which was based on what I picked up from songs and sermons as a young child A definition of heaven that I like is,”Where God’s will is done perfectly.” I like it because we get to bring tiny glimpses of heaven to earth as we walk with Jesus. It also brings new clarity to the picture in Revelation of heaven coming down to earth.
Ahhhh… heaven. My earliest stirrings of heaven was listening and relistening to Forrest McCullough’s “Flight F-I-N-A-L on record. That record was played so hard that the needle woild always get hung up on a scratch at the Holy, Holy, Holy hymn. His exhilarating drama of the flight… leaving the old and familiar behind and the awesome excitement of spying and drawing near to the Holy city… the orchestra music and celestial singing… hearing the Well-done… and the Ever-thrilling Hallelujah Chorus… I often track my commitment to know and serve and faithfulness to God has its origin here.
One of the precious pieces from this album is how it portays death and heaven as a “we” process and event. From the bidding farwell at the gate of death to the first glimpses of the Eternal Home to the falling as one man before the Throne… Oh, we are NOT ALONE!! Because our physical death is a reality that is one-by-one and personal, I so often see all the aloneness… But at the heart of heaven is a togetherness with the Lord. And true worship this side of eternity is but a foretaste of the collective saints in praise and story telling!! Totally redemptive!!
I know the terror and repulsion to reading Revelation but now I highly recommend the reading of Revelation for a mighty weapon against depression. Not the dragons, seals, swords, horses, predictions… But ALL THE WORSHIP SCENES!! I have them highlighted the in my Bible and gives a wonderful go-to when I need fresh courage for the daily earth-cursed living!!
And don’t miss Joni Erickson’s Heaven Is For Real!! Confirms that true worship is going to include my visions of running through fields of wildflowers until I am celestially exhausted! And then I’ll flop on the my back on the ground and watch the biggest, fluffiest white clouds until I gain the energy to bounce on them! (Ah yeah… this will include all my core peoples too.)
Ahhhh… heaven!! (I’ve so enjoyed the comments of others. See you all there. Can’t wait to hear the redemptive stories… especially those who will have list the threats and fears of Revelation!)
Joni’s book is “Heaven-Your Real Home”
One longing I have for heaven is completion. Philippians 1:6 says we can be confident that he who began a good work in you (me?!!!) will carry it on to completion. (In a Bible study one time the leader mentioned that God already knows who we will be in heaven, and suggested that when he forgives our sin and remembers it no more he sees us that way.) Not that we will be someone different than we are now, but that we will be as we are without sin, so that all the giftings and talents and quirkiness that make me who I am will be perfectly balanced and developed. My orderliness will not be a trial that makes me grumpy all the time with my children, but I will see the purpose in God designing me that way. I long for this especially on those days that who I am seems to clash with everyone and everything good, and I don’t like myself at all, and results don’t match my intentions, and my mind says I am screwing it all up.
I also have a longing for a place of no tears and no pain and no wrong. And I trust that we will either know the reason for all the whys we have here, or they won’t matter anymore because being in God’s presence will confirm that there is no way he is anything but good.
I don’t know that I answered your question really. I just shared what I hope for.
The vision of heaven that I carry is made of pictures gathered from many places, I think, and I can’t remember where I found most of them.
I think that eternity will be spent on the new earth (this earth will have been destroyed by fire—not destroyed as in ‘obliterated’ but parallel to the way it was destroyed by water in the flood. See 2 Peter 3) and the dwelling place of God will be right in our midst (see Rev 21.1-4). We will live in community and perfect fellowship with God and each other (see Heb 11:16).
And since it’s a new earth, we will have things to do like maybe tending and keeping a garden like God designed in the beginning (before the fall this was actually the assignment but it included no weeds or trouble. I think it will be such again). I think we will always be learning and growing and creating good and beautiful things alongside our Creator and He will be delighted with our work. It will be full of delight and wonder and rich sweet love that brings rest to our very deepest souls. There will be no barriers or shadows, just closeness and light and freedom. Wholeness.
And thanks to whomever it was that preached my grandma’s funeral sermon, I think that somehow the things that we have done here in union with God, will be there (see Rev 14.13). They will matter still and be a benefit. I don’t know how it all works.
And there will be worship. We will see that everything is worship. Falling before the throne. Singing in warm harmonies. Delighting in our surroundings. Learning. Using our own creative powers to do things. It’s all from Him and through Him and to Him (see Romans 11:36) and we will know this fully and we will worship and as we worship, we will be completely alive such as we have never been yet.
Maybe I am wild in my imagination and belief but this vision of eternity is beautiful and compelling to me and so I hold it with an open hand.
However God choses to work it all out, I am most certain that I will not be in the least bit bored or disappointed, only so so grateful to be Home with Him!!
Thank you for asking. It did my heart good to think on these things again.
My older sister told me when we were young that she thought that when people died, the mailman would take them away, by driving up the telephone pole.
Death was something that fascinated me as a child, to be honest. It shocked me to see people lying so quiet and pale and still in a coffin, there yet not there. The song, “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be” was my favorite song at 4 years old and shaped my view of heaven.
When I was younger, I used to read through Revelation in church instead of listening to the sermon, because it was so much like a fantasy novel. As I grew older, however, my imagination and sensitivity caught up to me, and I could barely read it because of fear… what if I couldn’t last through those last days? What if I did something wrong and was thrown into the lake of fire? Also, I sort of got worried that heaven would be simply boring.
Later on, heaven became a place of rest, a place of escape from pain. As my relationship with Jesus deepened, it became a place where He was. All I know for sure now is that even if I can’t really imagine it, it will be much more than what I could ever imagine or think. I like C.S Lewis’s depiction of heaven in the Last Battle, as a place where we will continue to live and work and live out our stories.
There are some times in my life that I long for heaven. Then there are others, like in this time of my life that I honestly don’t. Not that I am scared of dying, but I feel like life is so rich and full that I feel like there is so much living still left to do and so much to experience before I die that I don’t feel like going yet. And yet, heaven is probably so much richer and brighter and clearer than the most fulfilled life on earth could be.
thanks for the good question!
Wow! What a loaded question. ☺️ I also grew up with many misconceptions of heaven. In more recent years, though, I’ve gained a better understanding, I think. I do love some of the ideas and pictures that Randy Alcorn paints in his book, “Heaven”. I think that has helped me to understand how REAL Heaven will be…..as compared to us morphing into some sort of angelic forms strumming instruments and floating around on clouds all day long.
In Heaven, I think I will be as much myself as it is possible to be. I look forward to pure, whole relationships with no ego or underlying agendas. I look forward to living the life that the sexual union in marriage is foreshadowing. I look forward to knowing and being known.
Yes, I also look forward to music and art and books and poetry. And travel. And studying. Maybe I will finally get time to read and study some of the things I didnt have time for on this Earth. ☺️ Science and History and Psychology and Art. I definitely want to play an instrument, maybe several. And I really want to be a Soprano 1 for a little. Maybe also a Bass 2.
Oh yes, will I get to teach little kids? I certainly hope so. It seems reasonable to think that there will be all ages there….and so isn’t it also okay to say that we will be in different stages of perfection?
Also I want to love on my nieces and nephews who I never got to meet in this life. Oh you don’t think there will be gender? Well, I can’t think of anything worse then morphing into a genderless angelic sort of being. That would be worse than living as a woman in this broken world.
I think my view was formed by Sunday school and by reading the Bible. I imagine a place full of light.
The Bible says: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1. Corinthians 2,9. So in my opinion we will never fully understand and and be able to imagine what heaven will be. We get some ideas but we will only know the whole thing when we will be there. And most important is to be prepared when Jesus comes.
Sometimes, when I thought of heaven I was sad that I would no longer be married to my husband. But last Sunday at church we were told that our life here with Jesus is like the Jewish engagement (which lasts 1 year) and when Jesus comes back this will be the wedding and we will be married to him eternally. This made me think that in fact my husband will no longer be groom, he will be bride as well 🙂 And Jesus is the groom/husband! So he will totally fill the gap.
(And in heaven it will not matter that my English is not perfect ;-))
“Heaven is the face of a little girl…..” “God, I know it’s all of this and so much more, but God, You know that this is what I’m aching for.”
-Steven Curtis Chapman
“All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle