“Well, this was kind of a thing.” Ally and Becca were sitting in the church’s coffee shop where they met frequently but not regularly They were young moms after all—you don’t get to schedule your own time. Becca raised her eyebrows a bit and Ally continued: “Last night Morgan was coloring a picture. There were clouds all over the page and right in the middle there was a gate. When I asked about it, she said it was heaven. And then she said, ‘It doesn’t look like much fun. I don’t want to go.’”
“Oh, wow—that is a thing! What did you say?”
Ally looked at Becca once more to reassure herself that this was a safe relationship and shrugged: “I mumbled all of the assurances you might expect: ‘Oh honey, don’t worry about that now; it’s going to be beautiful.’
“And . . . ?” Becca suspected there was more.
“I just kinda realized I’m with Morgan.” Ally let that announcement hang there for a minute and then added: “Some days I fight doubts that there is a life after this one. And other days, I doubt it could be good enough to make me hope it would last forever.”
Ally was relieved to see that Becca wasn’t horrified. In fact, she seemed unshaken by this confession and offered: “Sounds like you and Morgan could both benefit from more bedtime stories!”
“Bedtime stories?” Ally wouldn’t have been surprised by a Bible verse, but this suggestion intrigued her.”
“You know Tolkien?—wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy, right? Well, he suggested that our love for fantasy stories—stories we know aren’t true—betrays that we were created for a world beyond what we’ve experienced here.” Becca took a breath and continued: “Our fascination with heroic self-sacrifice, stepping outside of time, fellowship with non-human beings, good triumphing over evil, happily ever after kind of love; all of that resonates with our souls. Our brains say it’s too good to be true. But even if the details of our imagination are off, our desire for a fairy tale won’t leave us alone. Tolkien would tell you to follow your fairy tale longings and you’ll get closer to a captivating vision of heaven. Heaven isn’t just another fairy tale. I believe it’s the reality our fairy tales are pointing to. The commercialized picture of clouds, gates and chubby angels has gotten you stuck! ”
Ally was quiet and Becca apologized: “Sorry. I guess I kinda dumped on you. It’s just that I was in the same place you are, and this has been such a door-opening revelation to me.”
Ally quickly assured her: “No, no. I think I just got sprinkled with fairy dust! Morgan and I are going to go to imagination rehab in a fairy tale tonight!”
The story of us all:
As persons in God’s image, we have been hard wired with a longing for eternity; and in fact, an eternal soul. We believe there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus Christ is returning to judge the earth and to establish His eternal kingdom.
One important Scripture:
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “. . . he has put eternity into man's heart”
Now, what’s your story? You’ve heard Becca’s story, you know the story of us all. Now, let’s talk!
· If you were to draw a picture of heaven, what would you include?
· Is the idea of heaven something that elicits longing or dread for you?
· Is there a particular fear you have of a life after this one?
· Have you ever studied what the Bible has to say about the next life?
· Are you sure that your experience in the next life will be one of bliss and not agony?
· What do you think of “I went to heaven and here’s what I saw” stories?
Have you ever thought about what heaven is like?
(see “On Fairy Stories” by J. R. R. Tolkien)
I agree with Tandy: heaven will be a place were we will run forever. We will have eternal, glorified bodies. We will be in the presence of the Lord forever. Heaven will be place of endless worship, and like Bill commented above--a place of eternal service to God. I believe to was theologian, Jonathan Edwards, who wrote that heaven will also be a place where we will continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.
Tandy says that in C.S.Lewis’s “The last battle”, he pictured how people in heaven will be able to run for as long as they want, and never get tired. She says she looks forward to that.
My vision is different. I believe we will have work to do, but it will be something we truly enjoy. I hope my assignment will be to take care of a bunch of puppy dogs. I could do that forever and still want more.