When it became clear that my mom was losing her battle with cancer and she confined to her bed, reality sunk in.
One of her friends from church came over with a stack of cards for her to fill out in case she passed away. There were a few birthday cards and two graduation cards–one for me and one for my brother. Our friend from church held onto the cards and gave them to my brother and I when we had our first birthdays without my mom and when we graduated from high school.
I still have those cards to this day and go back to read them every few years. They have become some of my most valued possessions.
One of the cards was signed with a PS from my mom, saying she can’t wait to meet me at the pearly gates. I cherish those words knowing that one day I will see my mom again. Now, I have no idea if she will be waiting to greet me once I arrive, or if there are literally gates made of pearl guarding the perimeter of heaven – probably not.
As humans, we love dreaming about heaven.
And movie producers love letting their imaginations go wild as they portray heaven. We may not have a lot of Bible verses describing what heaven will physically look like, but God does give us a few very clear descriptions of what it will be like.
1. You won’t be disembodied.
“For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.”
(2 Corinthians 5:3)
Sorry to break it to you…but you won’t be a floating spirit or an angel when you get to heaven.
The movies have lied to you. What a shock!
We will have bodies. We will actually have new bodies. 2 Corinthians 5 describes us as growing weary with our current bodies. It’s not that we want to die and get rid of our bodies, but that we long to put on our new bodies. We know very well that our current bodies grow old, and our aches and pains remind us all too well.
And we know that God wants us to have redeemed bodies, because Jesus was resurrected to a new body. Jesus didn’t come back as a spirit, but as a resurrected man who was embodied. He ascended into heaven with His body, and the bible says that He will return the same way.
What’s more is that 1 Corinthians 15 says that Jesus is the first of many resurrections to come. Jesus showed us what’s in store for us in His own body.
But what will these new bodies look like?
That’s a great question and we don’t have a clear answer in scripture. What we do know is that our new bodies will be eternal and that they are made by God. The bodies we are living in now are not a permanent home. That’s why they are breaking down and growing weary. But we can look forward to God fulfilling His promises as He prepares a new body for us.
2. You won’t be doing nothing forever.
I’ve never enjoyed the idea of sitting around in heaven stroking a harp. One, I’m not musically talented. And two, I’m one of those crazy people that doesn’t enjoy sitting around.
So I’m really excited to know the primary activity of heaven will not be sitting.
When God created the earth, He created it perfectly without blemish. Part of His creation included working. Adam and Eve worked in the garden. Work is part of God’s perfect creation and is a desire we are wired with.
Our work in heaven will not be a burden. Instead it will be enjoyed and delighted in. Think of a time where you were really satisfied and fulfilled by a job well done. Now imagine that sense of accomplishment and purpose but without the physical and emotional burdens that work often brings. That’s what work will be like in heaven.
Life in heaven will reflect the fullness of who God has created us to be and the beauty of living in full reconciliation to our Savior and Creator.
3. Heaven is not self-centered.
To understand heaven as a place full of all your favorite things would suggest heaven is about us. But heaven is not an upgrade of our former life into a celebrity mansion full of all the things you could never afford.
Heaven is about something so much greater–Jesus Himself.
It’s difficult for us to imagine a life apart from our own sinful nature, where we glamorize and long for foolish things. We view the good life through this tainted self-centered lens that doesn’t even allow us to see that what God has to offer is so much greater.
But the book of Revelation paints this beautiful picture of heaven being filled with people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. And every single one of them stand before Jesus in worship. Forever.
If we’re being honest, a celebrity mansion may sound far more appealing than a room full of people worshipping. But that’s because we tend to value things that simply don’t matter.
To long for heaven and see it as more than a dream vacation is a somewhat radical idea.
But it becomes an important shift in our priorities and thinking. The desire for good things on earth isn’t necessarily bad. But in light of seeing Jesus face to face and being in the full redemption of God’s Kingdom, even the good things here are no match.
I will be the first to admit that I need the power of Jesus to reshape the priorities of my heart and the longings of my soul. May all of our hearts yearn for heaven–the real heaven–because of Jesus.