I asked them to imagine what heaven would be like. We are finishing up a study on the foundations of the Christian faith. It was long. It had us reading a lot of Scripture. We have spent weeks studying the Holy Spirit, spiritual warfare and now the Second Coming of Christ. As with spiritual warfare where I tried to define all the good spirits, the bad spirits, and who our enemies are so we are all on the same page; I am doing that with hell, heaven, and the events of the End Times - the Tribulation, the Rapture, the Second Coming of Christ, Armageddon, the Millennium reign of Christ, and the Great Judgment. It's actually harder than you think to simply define these concepts and to order the events.
The order of the events and knowing (we actually don't know much) about how it is all going to go down, isn't the big take-away. The big take away is that it will all happen. And that God triumphs.
Our study said "The return of Christ is mentioned by every New Testament writer, and these writers refer to it over three hundred times in twenty different books." I did not know this and I found it fascinating. I know there are 27 books in the New Testament and 9 writers. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, the unknown author of Hebrews, James, Peter, and Jude. I verified that every writer does talk about the Second Coming of Christ. I did not verify it is in 20 of 27 books in the New Testament. I'll take their word for it.
We are told Christ will return. We should live right now with this truth in front of us. Our study had us walk through many of the Scripture verses and passages about it. We know Jesus will come back unexpectedly and triumphantly. That He is coming back to gather His followers, to defeat Satan and the antichrist at Armageddon and to reign on earth.
I believe in God's promises. I believe I am forgiven. I believe I will one day be with Jesus in heaven.
Our study asked, "When Jesus returns and you see Him face-to-face, what would you like to hear Him say? What would you like to say to Him?"
And then our study had us read about heaven. Heaven is mentioned 276 times in the New Testament. And it asked, "Imagine you have just arrived in heaven. Based on what will surround you there, how might you feel? What might you experience?"
And I let my imagination run wild. And everything I wrote down made me smile. It made me so joyful. But I was a bit surprised by some of what I wrote and this was the most surprising.
I will be safe. I can't stop thinking about this because this thought never occurred to me before. Do you know how unsafe we feel right now? We are in some pretty tumultuous times. We have found ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic. We have lost over half a million people in the United States to this insidious virus. Many have serious health problems. Many have lost jobs and are in economic ruin. Education has suffered. Security is lost. Suffering and grief surrounds us. It's bleak on many fronts.
But more so than the circumstances of this historical time, are the unseen tone around us. People have been downright ugly this year. Angry. Hateful. Mean. Spiteful.
Whichever side people fell on with regards to the pandemic or politics or BLM or the environment or insert any topic you want - people became really evil. I don't use that word flippantly. Their words were not full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control. I'm guilty too. I felt an anger towards other people like I probably haven't ever experienced. As late as October when people gathered for a large event nearby and refused to wear masks or social distance, I was livid.
And what happened was I realized that some people aren't safe for me. It really was an eye-opening experience. I chose to distance myself from those people.
There are people who we can't be truly ourselves around. We have to watch what we say because they will take it the wrong way or attack us. They hurt our feelings.
Feeling unsafe. We all feel it in this world. I wonder at what point in our lives did we change from feeling protected and safe to always looking over our shoulder.
Someone who has been abused knows how unsafe feels.
A woman walking home alone in the dark knows how unsafe feels.
A person being bullied, whether in person or on the internet, knows how unsafe feels.
Someone who has been diagnosed with cancer knows how unsafe feels.
A man who just lost his job knows how unsafe feels.
A child whose parent died knows how unsafe feels.
We all know how unsafe feels.
But heaven will be SAFE!
And that is very hard for me to imagine. Evil will be defeated. No one will have any secrets or have anything to hide. No one will say something or do something that hurts you to your core. We will have perfect peace. There will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow. There will be nothing to be ashamed of. There will be no deception. No lies. We will not want more because we will have it all. We will not be under the curse of sin. We will never again be angry or mean or unkind or any of the other things we now do to each other.
Can you truly imagine that?
Think of a moment when all at the same time you were completely happy, secure, peaceful, safe, and joyful.
This is what I imagine heaven will be like.
It will look completely different - new... bright... beautiful... better... clean... warm... interesting... colorful... lush.
I will have a new body yet people will know it is me - full of energy... healthy... beautiful... smooth... bright.
I will feel safe... content... peaceful... joyful... purposeful... loved... fulfilled.
I will do all kinds of fun things - meet new people... learn new things... try new things... be adventurous... have fun.
I will worship God for all of eternity.
I try to imagine it. We can't really comprehend how incredible it is going to be.
It has not appeared as yet what we will be.
1 John 3:2
No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
When Jesus comes again He will gather us to Him!
Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:18
Truth - Heaven will be glorious beyond our wildest imagination!
(song by Mercy Me)