“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.” C. S. Lewis, “The Last Battle”
If cartoonists are to be believed, I’m not sure why anyone would want to go to heaven — except to avoid hell.
It’s true. Cartoons depict heaven as a colorless, aimless, rather boring place. Or, even more oddly, as a place where all but the most grievous of criminals are welcome. St. Peter at the gate, harp distribution, wings for all. We recognize this iconic idea as heaven — even though there is scant biblical support for it.
The Bible paints a different picture — offering a sense of place full of radiant color, peace and holiness; a place where people of every shade of skin and language will worship in God-ruled harmony; a place where sickness and death and evil are simply and permanently gone.
And — if you’re really looking, if heaven is a place you truly want to reach — you just might catch a glimpse of it this side of the veil. A couple of weeks ago, I suspect we drifted through.
It was at a camp atop a rolling hill in a place remote enough to effectively keep out the news and the ever-present pinging or buzzing of phone messages. About 100 of us, ranging in age from 2 to 70-something ate, bunked, worshiped, prayed, learned and played silly games until God melted us into a cohesive whole.
I felt it particularly one night, when the middle-school girls in my charge were drifting here and there in search of a late-night snack or the opportunity to flirt. I knew they were safe. Adult eyes, and — so much better — God’s eyes were everywhere.
So, I sat on a bench in the warm Southern darkness, listened to the crickets drone and watched a handful of pre-schoolers ride toy cars round and round a gazebo lit with twinkle lights. Other ladies of my age were there, but we didn’t talk much. We just lived. And, it was good. As everything is that God does.
I didn’t want to leave. I suspect no one welcomed into God’s best ever will.
If you would like to read more about what the Bible actually says about heaven — and the living and dying that takes place before, you might be interested in my e-book Making a Grand Exit: Biblical Answers to Our Fear of Dying.