Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Anticipating heaven

A Christian friend and I were talking about heaven and the big question: What if we’re not good enough and when we get there, entry is refused?

“Thinking about heaven makes me scared to death that I will go there someday and none of my family will be there. Heaven scares me more than it draws me. Most days I think I won't make it in either with all the ‘It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven’ stuff out there and condemning stuff. I will probably end up in Hell just for the way I am as a father and husband.”

Here’s my reply, with this disclaimer – I don’t have answers. I have a gut response and my anticipation of what heaven may be like is based on God's full knowledge of us and his provision for our future:

You are no more broken than the rest of us. Think of the guy hanging on the cross beside Jesus, stealing, breaking people's trust all his life. His crimes were bad enough to earn crucifixion, but Jesus turns at his simple request and says, “Ok, come. I'm enough for you! Today you’ll be with me.” God’s provision in Jesus… totally unearned and undeserved.

Then there’s Paul, assuming he was serving God by being "good" and keeping all the rules... while killing people who believed in Christ. When Jesus meets him, he says, "I'm enough for you, too."

I know Christ has turned his face to me a few times to say the same! “I’m enough. Even for you.” That’s a good thing, because if there were even one "perfect" point we had to earn for God to let us in, I'm out out out! I'm totally depending that the One who made the world and everything in it has figured out what to do with a 'hopeless sinner' like me.

“What about family who doesn’t believe? I’m not sure I’d want to be in heaven without my family.” Imagine! The Almighty God who fills the universe will be ours without the restraint of our human limitations between us. Our God, our mother, father, sister, brother, our everything. I think all those human ties seem to be broken when all the Family of God is united. Can't quite figure out how that will happen, but if even husband and wife intimacy is replaced by something more intimate and more loving, more connected... wow - going to be interesting.

Descriptions of heaven sound like we still know each other, but it also seems like the love for others grows to be equal to our best loves. In heaven all are knitted into God’s family. It may be like adding a child to a marriage - you don't lose love for your partner; rather, your love for the new addition grows and enriches the former love.

Don't you sometimes feel like we're looking and looking and can only see in limited black and white a coming world of incredible color and shapes and imagination. I feel that way, thinking of heaven. Can't wrap my mind around much of it, but if even a fraction of the promise is true, it's going to blow these minds right into a new space and understanding.

Some days I get so homesick I just want to GO to be with God. Living in God’s presence, no holds barred.! Hope to see you there when the times comes – if you’re willing to hang out with someone who needed grace as much as I do.

Read more:
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10 NIV

He leads me beside peaceful streams. Psalm 23:2b NLT

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2: 19-22 NLT (again, same as yesterday)

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