I’ll have to admit that the thought of Heaven wasn’t too attractive to me as a young child.
Of course, I understood that Hell needed to be avoided for obvious reasons. But, Heaven … well … what’s so great about a long worship service that never, ever, ever, ever ends? I’ve been in some worship services that only lasted an hour or so but they felt like eternity. Imagine them actually lasting for eternity! Ugh!
Then, God revealed some truths to me in His Word. I realized that while Heaven is a literal place, it’s really about the relationship. I came to realize on a very deep level that God made me for Himself and my ultimate joy could be found in relationship with Him (adapted from St. Augustine). The sheer, incomprehensible joy of Heaven will be found in satisfying our longings by getting caught up in the incredible presence of God and experiencing His goodness to us.
Further, I came to realize that Heaven is in fact a literal place. It’s not some ‘spiritual’ place ‘out there’ somewhere. It’s a literal, physical locality as real (more real!) than our present life experience. It hit me that Heaven was going to be on a brand new earth with new stars, sun(s), moon(s) and whatever else God chooses to put in outer space for us to admire from the new earth. (Revelation 21-22 describes this place.)
This morning, I was reminded that there’s coming a day when God will destroy everything with fire. This earth. Our sun. Our moon. The stars. The other galaxies. Whatever is out there, it’s going to be toast. But, in its place, God is going to recreate a new earth with all of the stars and whatever else He chooses to put in outer space. That will be our new “Heaven” that we will inhabit forever.
2 Peter 3:11-13 (New Living Translation)
“Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.”
What will it be like to live on an earth inhabited by folks who love each other and love God? What will it be like to have no need for keys (no one will steal from others)? What will it be like to go for hikes with no fear of being attacked by wild animals? What will it be like to enjoy work and leisure with absolutely no anxiety? What will it be like to satisfy our deepest longings as we enjoy our God? What will it be like to never, ever experience the guilt or consequences of sin?
I can’t wait to find out!!!