Heaven, by far, may be one of the most underrated things that people (including me) consider. I have been known to describe a yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting paired with a cup of brewed coffee as “heavenly” and while I do mean to express that the idea of this dessert is “blissful and beautiful”, the use of the adjective “heavenly” may be overdoing it a little. Or a lot.
I’ve been thinking about heaven a lot lately. As a Seattle-ite, it’s hard not to do when I find myself in 80-85 degree weather, watching the sky change from blue to pink to orange to purple to navy. It’s hard not to think of heaven when the snowy peaks of the Olympics contrast against the bright blue waters of Puget Sound or when every man, woman, child, and dog walk happily around Greenlake. The beauty of Seattle summers encourages my heart towards heaven… until I pick up the Sunday paper.
I did it today as I was waiting for a sweet friend to partner with me for some heavy shopping. The first page spoke about the declining oyster population and the growing impact of global warming. The ‘Newsline’ on page A2 describes an oil leak that I didn’t even know of (in Michigan, not the Gulf of Mexico) that has leaked 1 MILLION gallons of oil. Flipping to section B, I read about how the state’s judicial system has led to the improper incarceration of two men for the last 17 years and that the state has hesitated to express an apology from keeping these men from their families or a regular life due to false testimony. On the same page, a story talks about how a national religion started by a SCIENCE FICTION writer has built new headquarters in Seattle. I must admit, it’s hard for me to remember heaven with the daily news in the forefront and the “Good News” in the background.
Surely, the preoccupation of the fallen world can lead to anxiety or strife. It can, at times, mislead me to worry about “self preservation” instead of “eternal preparation”. I often find myself anxious or angry as I fume over what appears to be the degradation of creation rather than looking ahead at what must come in order to fulfill what has been promised. As Peter wrote (2 Peter 3):
8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
As this sweet Seattle summer continues, I pray that my heart would be shaped by the hope that is in heaven: the place where Jesus rightly reigns and the consequences of our current world are dissolved and forgotten. I pray that rather than endure, all Christians would thrive for God’s glory to clearly show that heaven is not yet a place on earth (or a yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting).
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”