Heaven. This could possibly be the greatest unknown in a lifetime full of unknowns. What will it be? My ideas of heaven have always been, well, weird. I had a dream once that my mom, my dad, my brother, and I were in heaven... on a cloud, wearing blue and orange sleeping bags. I said it was a dream, did I mention I was four?
I also thought of heaven as a big swimming pool with slides and diving boards. A pool for all the world. Later, I thought of heaven as a menagerie of animals, incredibly wild, unbelievably tame. And all the pets of childhood would be there, Otis, Chester, Gertie, etc.
These things would be wonderful (especially to an eight year old), but none of them are focused on Jesus, and all of them would disappoint if that is what heaven really was. Even though I know heaven is about Jesus, I've also been afraid of it. As a girl, I was afraid of the constant worship that is written about in the Bible. If I could hardly stay focused for five worship songs on a Sunday morning, how could I sing without ceasing for eternity?
So, what is heaven anyway?
Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23
I think this verse is beautiful. It's comforting to know that home is being with Jesus, whether that is with His Spirit on earth or in our real home with Him in heaven. But this is also difficult. I've grown so attached to this earthly home, even to things that are not of the Spirit. I think all my life I have wanted a promise from Jesus. I want Him to tell me that heaven will be like my home on earth, the home I know, the home I love.
Yes, I'm afraid of heaven. I'm afraid that it won't measure up to this world's beauty, this world's pleasure. I'm afraid of not being married to Tim (Matt. 22:30), afraid of not living near my family. You could tell me that isn't true, that is isn't worth worrying about... but I've already told myself. Deep inside I know heaven is too wonderful for me to imagine... and I know that once I get there, I will realize that it couldn't be anything else. It must be what it will be, but the will be I cannot know.
I don't know if you have read C.S. Lewis' book The Last Battle. This book is the very last one in the Chronicles of Narnia. In it (warning: spoiler), several characters die and go to be with Aslan in heaven. Somehow, the following passage is immensely comforting to me, as I hold tightly to these Shadowlands.
"Then Aslan turned to them and said:
"You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be."
Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often."
"No fear of that," said Aslan. "Have you not guessed?"
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.
"There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly.
"Your father and mother and all of you are- as you used to call it in the Shadowlands- dead.
The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
And as he spoke he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Greatest Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." - The Last Battle
I have realized that my whole outlook on eternity must change. Death is only the beginning of the beautiful, not the end of all I love.
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." John 14:1-4
He will draw us to Himself, He will wipe away every tear, and the Groom will lead us to His wedding feast.