I like to think about Heaven. What will it be like, who I will see, what will surprise me most, etc. I actually can not wait to get there!
I also like to read stories of people who have entered Heaven and then returned. I will say I am very selective about what I allow myself to read or hear as God’s Word is clear that we are to guard our minds and hearts carefully and our enemy loves to distort truth and appears most in ways that seem lovely. He is a counterfeit, he will always try to offer an imitation of what is real and I think the subject and experience of Heaven is one that satan uses often because we all have a strong innate desire to know about it.
Everything I read or hear MUST line up with the Word of God. That being said, the more I have been diving into Scripture and allowing it to soak up every fiber of me, and as I lean on the Holy Spirit for understanding, He is teaching me new things about so many areas that I had wrong ideas of. Recently I was humbled to discover my selfish and erroneous perspective of Heaven.
Up until a couple of weeks ago I had ideas of Heaven that were about how wonderful it was going to be for ME; and make no mistake – it certainly will be – but I still had it all wrong. My thoughts of Heaven used to be about how I wouldn’t be rejected anymore, I wouldn’t have to deal with difficult relationships, I wouldn’t have to be reminded daily of my regrets and mistakes, I could be in the presence of the Father, I could see the streets of gold and see the lovely work of His hands, I would have a perfect body (can I hear an Amen?!), I would be with my loved ones, I would be taken aback at the awesomeness of God and I was giddy at the thought of finally meeting Jesus face-to-face! All of that is true, but that’s not Heaven.
Also, I imagined I would have a mansion all to myself (which meant wouldn’t have to share that space and could decorate it any way I wanted!) The mansion would be all about ME. It would be filled with my favorite flowers and fresh scents, the window would always be open and plenty of God’s light shining through (and there would be NO television, praise God). MY mansion would have the most stunning architecture and be located in a place that would take my breath away (that’s still true, but again, not what Heaven is about). When I was on a trip to the Caribbean recently I said out loud, as I was standing on my balcony, “God, my mansion better be overlooking an ocean and then have mountains nearby”! I imagined God would give me everything my heart desired, all the treasures I enjoyed on earth plus the ones I imagined enjoying but couldn’t. It would be utopia. I could go talk to the very people that I read about in the Bible. I wanted to meet Mary Magdalene, David, Paul, and so many more. First thing I would want to know upon arriving in Heaven would be if my grandparents were there, because I’m not sure. I don’t know if they knew Jesus for sure and in my mind the first thing, after seeing Jesus, would be to find out and then wrap my arms around them if they were! Heaven was more of a daydream of what it would be like. I didn’t really give it serious thought.
Then I read a book, Intra Muros, and I realized that all my thoughts about Heaven were about ME – and what benefits were coming to ME.
I couldn’t put the book down. I read it in a few short hours and I spent even more time sobbing. You know the kind of crying that makes your face swell up and 1 box of tissue simply won’t suffice. I was crying so hard I finally drew a hot bath and sat in there to calm down. It was a good cry but a hard one because within a few short chapters of the book I got angry. It wasn’t what I expected. She was sharing an experience that was crushing my ideas of what Heaven was like (in some ways and confirming in others) and especially knocking at the door of an area that was very sensitive to me – relationships/marriage. What she experienced in Heaven regarding her earthly relationships sucked the wind out me, I was sucker punched. I didn’t like what she was saying because it shed light on a monstrosity of a mistake in my life. I thought Heaven would erase all our mistakes but now I started thinking I might have to live for eternity with my choices. My first thought was “am I going to be punished for eternity for my divorce(s)? What’s going to happen as a result of being married 3 times?” (Just in case your wondering: the answer is NO, I’m not going to be punished for eternity). Keep in mind that neither the author nor myself claim that her experience and the sharing of it are God’s final word to us – it was simply her experience that she was compelled to share. As I continued to read and I asked God to reveal what was the truth He didn’t answer all my questions but the main thing I kept hearing from the Lord, and still am, is this: ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. After running the full gamut of emotions throughout the book from anger, sadness, joy, delight, I finished with a calm, settled peace. I still don’t know much about Heaven but God used that book to drastically change my perspective. It will still be perfect, He WILL wipe away our tears, there WILL be NO sorrow, there WILL be mansions of glory with ROOMS that He has prepared, it will be spectacular and it will take our breath away. However, the two main lessons that I feel God has taught me in the last couple of weeks of pondering what Heaven is about is this:
- Heaven is where God’s will is accomplished perfectly. My perfect delight will be in doing His will. Heaven isn’t about fulfilling all my fleshly desires.
- My choices on earth have a greater impact for eternity than I realize. I don’t think we have a clue about the connection between earth and Heaven. I’m not quite ready to expound on that as I’m deep in the muck of learning this lesson, but in the next few days I will share a little tidbit of something God revealed to me this weekend on how to respond to people and a different perspective on relationships.
Ultimately, Heaven will be greater than you or I could imagine however I see now that it will have much more to do with all of us working together to accomplish His will more than anything else – and doing His will IS Heaven and will bring perfect peace, joy, and satisfaction.
I will stop here for today. There is so much more that I want to write as God continues to reveal, but in the meantime think on this:
Thou wilt keep those in perfect peace, whose mind is steadfast on Thee… Isaiah 26:3