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Friday, March 4, 2011

Heaven at the Pump

I chatted with a gentleman at the gas pump not long ago.

He seemed very happy, and we had an enjoyable few exchanges as we filled our respective vehicles -- a good thing, since the station was considered "cheap" at $3.15 a gallon, and I spent more than $40 to fill the tank.

At the end of our brief conversation, he gave me a tract that discussed heaven from a particular religious viewpoint, and expressed an eagerness for me to read it. Then he drove off and merrily waved as he pulled past me; I merrily waved back, but in my heart I whispered a prayer for him.

When I got home I read the tract. It described a beautiful paradise on earth, full of gardens and plentiful food and living space, bursting with health and peace, free of work or strife of any kind. Messiah would rule over this new world. Love would reign. The illustrations showed a park-like setting with happy families cuddling wild animals, and tamed lions and wolves resting next to sheep and deer.

It was very easy imagine.

And therein, for me, lies a problem. You see, I believe that God is infinitely greater than anything we can understand. When I think of the place that God's people will live after death, I remember the quote from Paul, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Cor. 2:9).

Not long ago in my writing group, another gentleman read some excerpts from a book he is writing about heaven. Do you ever feel like a topic is following you around? He was interested to hear questions that either we, or other people, might have about an afterlife.

So I'm asking you, my dear friends, for him. What questions do you have? Is there a heaven? Does everyone go there? If not, who doesn't, and why not? Do we just cease to exist at death? Can we know what happens, or do we just have to guess?

What is heaven like? And does it matter what you believe?

1 comment:

Philangelus said...

Practically speaking, no, it doesn't matter what we believe about Heaven because God's made Heaven without any input from us, so we'll find out what it's like when we get there. You can believe I live in a twenty-story skyscraper if you like; that doesn't redesign my house. :-)

A lot of people tend to minimize that there will be both a New Heaven and a New Earth, and that we will experience bodily resurrection at the end. That means to some extent yes, there will be parks with fluffy bunnies and tiny mice blowing kisses to the stars and angels tucking them into bed in their little feetie pajamas.

Er...or something.

But the true experience of Heaven is the beatific vision of God, face-to-Face, and with our souls beholding God, it honestly wouldn't matter if Heaven were located in a sewage treatment plant infested with giant flying cockroaches: we'd still be happy there because we'd be experiencing God's love, and that's the only thing that matters.