Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why I'm looking forward to heaven

I look forward to heaven because there will be no more pain. 

On days like the ones I've been having over the last week or two, this becomes forefront in my mind. I know that the absence of pain is not the best or most wonderful thing about heaven, but it is a very real and understandable point. No more headaches, no more leg cramps, no more back spasms. I think sometimes God uses aches and pains to develop in us a longing for a better place where He will heal and comfort us.

I look forward to heaven because the struggle with sin will be over. 

I really cannot imagine what it will be like never to struggle with temptation and never to fall into sin. I know that Satan works by deceiving us, by tricking us into thinking that sin will make us happier, more satisfied and more comfortable than God will make us. In heaven, we will have a clear view of God and a perfect understanding of Him. We will know Him as He is, in all of His glory, beauty, love, perfection and awesome power. Meanwhile, Satan will be bound and gagged in hell, unable to deceive us ever again. I think this is going to be more amazing and wonderful than anything we can begin to imagine. It will be perfectly freeing to live with no sin, no shame and no regrets. As I try to comprehend this, I realize that not only will we live in heaven without sin... we won't even have to face any temptations. I am certainly looking forward to this.

I look forward to heaven because people who will not forgive me here 
will have to forgive me there. 

I live with a certain (probably abnormal) amount of angst over being disliked. In heaven, our relationship with God will be perfected, which, and forgive me for using the vernacular (I don't mean it that way) will be totally awesome. But our relationships with other people will also be perfected, and that completely blows my mind. The Bible says in Matthew 18:35 that if you refuse to forgive your brother, God will not forgive you. This leads me to believe that if someone refuses to forgive me on earth, that person will either learn to forgive immediately upon passing through the pearly gates, or else will not get past the pearly gates. Living in a community of perfectly sanctified people who all always extend the same grace to one another that Jesus has extended to us... that will be a dream come true. I know they say that when there is a problem between people, you only suffer when you refuse to forgive, but I don't think that's quite true. You definitely suffer the most when you let your own unforgiveness rule you. But you do also suffer when you live under the indictment of man, when you cannot earn your way back into someone's good graces, and free forgiveness is simply not offered. Hallelujah, in heaven this will never be a problem.

I look forward to heaven because there will be 
no more fear and uncertainty. 

No longer will I be racked with guilt for a ridiculous pet dental bill. No longer will I second-guess so many of my decisions. No longer will I wonder how we will pay for college, medical care, taxes. No longer will I struggle to understand whether it is reasonable to spend money on, say, a vacation. Bring it on. I long for the day when I am truly free from the cares of this world, released in every way from the earth that groans under the burden of sin.

I look forward to heaven because there I will see God face to face. 

Honestly, this really scares me. It doesn't scare me the way thoughts of war and persecution at the hands of evil scare me. It scares me like a roller coaster, or maybe the way the thought of marital intimacy scared me before I got married. I know it will be good, great, wonderful. Yet, it holds a holy dread, a fear of the unknown, a fear of being totally and completely overwhelmed.

When Laura was born, I lost a lot of blood (a lot). Off in the distance, I heard Shawn's voice saying, "I think I need to go sit down..." and I thought, "Wow. I think I need to go sit down, too. And put my head between my knees. Oh wait... I'm already lying flat on my back." And with that, I faded a little out of consciousness.

The Bible suggests that a human cannot see the face of God and live. The face of God is enough holy glory to knock a man down dead on the floor. But when we get to heaven, we are already dead, so there you have it. I know it will be great, seeing God face to face, a thrill that exceeds all possible human imagination. But I'm scared anyway. Maybe this a healthy dose of fear of the Lord.

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