(And Why You Should Be Too)
During morning devotions on this Mother’s Day, I began thinking of my own mom, who passed away in 2000, and I realized how often I find myself longing to see her and my dad again. That’s a biblical impulse. Jesus longs for us to be where He is too (John 14:3). The Bible tells us to set our hearts and minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-2), and Peter tells us to “look forward to the day of God and speed its coming,” and to be always “looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:12-14). Abraham, along with the whole parade of biblical heroes, was “looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and building is God” (Hebrews 11:10). This morning as I pondered this, I jotted down the ten things I’m most excited about seeing in heaven.
- The Throne – For the last couple of years, I’ve been studying the biblical descriptions of the throne of God (see, for example, Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4-5). There the presence of the Trinity is manifested; and according to Revelation 22:1-3, it is in the city center of New Jerusalem, with the cascading Crystal River flowing from it and the central golden boulevard of heaven leading to it. Here, I think, is where we will see Jesus.
- My Loved Ones – My dad, mom, and the older sibling who miscarried before birth. And all those grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others. The Bible says that now we see things through smudged glass, as it were, but in heaven we will know more fully; we will see face to face and know even as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
- The Golden City – I’ve read a lot of books about heaven, but never a record as authoritative and descriptive as Revelation 21 – 22, which describes the great city of New Jerusalem as it descends from the highest heaven to the new earth. John takes a tour of the city—its foundations and walls and gates and streets and inhabitants and illumination and size—and his words are graphic enough to visualize. I can imagine it somewhat now; but how remarkable to see it in person!
- The New Earth – The Golden City of New Jerusalem will be the capital of the New Earth, which, according to Isaiah, Peter, and John, will be re-created at the dawning of eternity. I’m among those who view the biblical teaching on this literally, for Christ rose literally from the grave and is dwelling geographically now. If this world is so beautiful, how much more the New Earth! I believe it will be much bigger than our current planet because of the proportions needed to accommodate a city 1400 miles high. We know God can make large planets. As C. S. Lewis indicated in his Naira books, the old earth is simply a pale preview of the eternal earth.
- My Mansion – The older translations of John 14:2 says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” I memorized that verse in the third or fourth grade and have been looking forward to my mansion ever since. I know, of course, that newer translations use more modest language, like, “In My Father’s house are many rooms.” But I’m sticking with “mansion,” figuring that any dwelling place in heaven will be plenty palatial.
- The New Heavens – The same passages that speak of a New Earth also speak of the New Heavens, which, as I understand it, means a new universe full of galaxies, stars, planets, and heavenly bodies. Since we’ll have eternity, I assume it’ll all be explorable for us, although I’ve never personally wanted to go into space. Perhaps in eternity, I’ll feel differently; and in any case, what a sight to see!
- My Sinless and Glorified Body and Soul – I’m frustrated with being a perfectionist who is so far from perfect. To have a sinless nature and a body that will never wear out, wear down, or grow old – that is, to be like Jesus – is right up there with seeing the Throne. Anxiety can rob a day of its joy as it suffocates the soul. There is no limit to the negative emotions, personal temptation, and physical distress we have to endure in this life. But every splinter of pain, sorrow, anxiety, anger, sin, and grief will be blasted away, never to return. I’m eager to see my wife, Katrina, walk again!
- The Saints of All the Ages – I’m looking forward to tea time with Billy Graham, D. L. Moody, Fanny Crosby, Francis of Assisi, Ambrose of Milan, Martin Luther, and all the other brothers and sisters who make up the family of God. And that includes the biblical heroes too! I can’t wait to ask Paul what he meant by a few of his sentences.
- Our Angel Friends. I’m also looking forward to getting to know my angel neighbors. According to Ephesians 1:10, God will one day merge the created realms of the physical and spiritual orders. I think angels will be as visible and accessible to us as all the other creatures God has made. I’m also quite certain there will be lots of animals on the New Earth, because the old earth is full of them.
- Endless Purposeful Service – One of the last descriptions of heaven in the Bible includes this sentence: “…and His servants will serve Him” (Revelation 22:3). The thought of boredom terrifies me, which is one reason I tend to become over-committed. It’s a great relief to know there will be lots of meaningful activity in heaven. There will be no need for evangelists, but I do think some of us can continue our Bible teaching. I’d also like to learn to paint with oils and maybe to play a musical instrument. I’m not certain about that last item yet, but I do know we’ll be engaged forever in activities that will bring meaning to our lives and glory to His name.
No wonder the Bible says that it is “far better” to be with Christ. I’m like the apostle Paul who told the Philippians he was caught between two desires—to stay and to leave. I think I’ll be here a while longer in His service, but, in any event, we know that to live is Christ and to die is gain. For those who know Christ, there’s always a splendid future to anticipate.