What is your view of heaven? I always thought that when you die, the heaven you went to would be your perfect world.
– So I’d be laying in a hammock in the sand of a beautiful island. And every person I’ve ever lost would be there with me again. I’d have everyone I ever wanted, and we’d all live on that sunny island in perfect harmon, never knowing heartache or loss ever again.
So my Port City small group is reading this book – The Reason For God by Timothy Keller. I only just finished chapter 2, and I love it. I don’t agree with every opinion, it’s not an easy read. But rarely do I read a book cover to cover, and I can’t put it down!
In the book, a pastor is addressing all of the frequent doubts and reasons that people use to disprove Christianity / Spirituality. Why does God allow suffering – the current chapter – is where my mind is right now.
I was there. I said “No all powerful all loving God would ever allow suffering”. Someone in the book said “If He is all powerful then he is not all loving, and if He is all loving, then certainly he isn’t all powerful” – Saying that God is either not kind enough to use his power to prevent evil, or he isn’t powerful enough to create the peace and love he really hopes for.
The pastor goes on first to tell about Joseph in the book of Genesis. He was hated by his family and sold into slavery. Joseph prayed and prayed to get out of slavery, but he never saw help, never saw answered prayers. “Though he experienced years of bondage and slavery, his character was refined and strengthened by his trials. Eventually he rose up to become Prime Minister of Egypt, saving thousands of lives, even his own family (that sold him to slavery) from salvation. If God had not allowed Joseph’s years of suffering, he never would have become such a powerful agent for social injustice and spiritual healing”.
Now, that’s a huge concept, I know. But Keller went on to discuss the other tragedies – challenging me to look at the tragedies in my life. He says (and I tend to agree – not to justify wrongdoing, but to look for a positive outcome) while no one is grateful for the tragedy itself, they would not trade the insight, character, and strength they got from it for anything.
If Rita had not passed away from Pancreatic Cancer, I never would have launched all of my efforts into working with the American Cancer Society to fund research – I never would have put so much time into finding the cure.
If the April 16th shooting at Virginia Tech had never happened, thousands and thousands of students would not have had changed hearts. Students at Virginia Tech attribute that terrible day to many of their good hearts, philanthropic efforts, mission work, and everyday good deeds.
So what’s the point? If all of these things happen in our lives that tear us down and leave holes in our hearts, what does that have to do with Heaven? I always thought that in my heaven, I’d have my Rita back. My grandparents would be back. Our dogs would be back and the bad wouldn’t hurt so much.
BUT! Keller says “the future is not an immaterial paradise, but a new heaven and a new earth. In Revelation 21 we do not see human beings being taken out of the world into heaven, but rather heaven coming down and cleansing, renewing, and perfecting this material world…not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had, but a restoration of the life you always wanted… every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired, but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater…the material world will be purged of all decay and brokenness. All will be healed and might have beens will be… everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow become greater for having once been broken and lost… we will get the life we most longed for, but it will be an infinitely more glorious world than if there had never been the need for bravery, endurance, sacrifice, or salvation”.
Okay that was a lot. Point is, apparently Heaven is not me getting scooped up and taken to my perfect island with everyone I love. Instead, Heaven is this very earth, but cleansed, purified, and made right. ANd we will remember the previous world, cherishing the new world (Heaven) so much more because we will remember the suffering of life before.
HEAVY STUFF. What do you think Heaven is? Am I taking this word for word? Nope – need to go read it for myself and talk with people about this. So what do you think?