(July 4, 1990)
As we discussed travel, a friend told of relatives from Greece journeying to Canada for the first time. After a day or two in Alberta, they wanted to pop over for an afternoon visit with another relative -- in New Brunswick! To convince them HERE was not the same as THERE, my friend had to show them the size of Greece compared to the size of Canada on a world map.
Most of us cannot identify with something outside of our experience. Before my husband became a Christian, he used to say, “Heaven would be boring, just sitting around doing nothing or playing a harp all the time...” He wasn’t putting that destination in his itinerary.
His too-small concept of heaven was a mixture of what life is like here and what is seen in cartoons. He could not imagine anything different. What helped both of us was the map drawn by the Lord in Scripture.
The word heaven occurs over 500 times in the Bible. Some verses mean the sky or space but many of them refer to an actual place Jesus said He would prepare for His people (John 14).
Regardless of all these references, the description is sketchy, apparently because we can’t relate to its wonders. I Corinthians 2:9, for instance, says: “...as it is written, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him.”
God reveals this much: Jesus came down from heaven to do the will of His heavenly Father, ascended back to heaven where He now intercedes for His people, and promises to return again from heaven to raise the dead (John 6:38, Acts 1:11, Hebrews 9:24, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16). So heaven is the home of the Father and the Son: holy, perfect, sinless Beings. My problem is that I can’t imagine perfection or a place without sin.
Heaven also is special because of rewards. The Bible doesn’t say exactly what they are except they are eternal, immune from theft, pollution, and corruption, and far better than anything we have here (Matthew 6:20, Hebrews 10:34, 1 Peter 1:4). I can’t imagine that either.
Angels are another extraordinary feature of heaven. These beings, created by God to serve Him, fill heaven with their joy when sinners repent because someday, those sinners, made saints by the grace of God, will join them there. Jesus even declared: “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” Thus heaven will be well populated, a surprise considering Jesus said the way was narrow and only a few would find it, leading to another thing about heaven: there is a way to get there and it is a narrow way, narrow but not impossible. Jesus also said, “I am the way... no one comes to the Father but by me.” He Himself is the route to this wonderful place.
Our part in making travel arrangements for heaven, is humility of attitude and a willingness to change while we are here. Both were described when Jesus said: “Unless you are converted (changed), and become as little children (humble), you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus gives complete travel arrangements for the journey in His Book.
Those of us who have already accepted God’s Way to heaven, delight in the One who guides in our travels. He may not tell us all we would like to know about our destination but we have been given a glimpse, enough that we call HERE our temporary address... and call THERE our permanent home!