Summary: The joy and love and peace that awaits us in heaven is beyond our imagination! It supersedes anything we have known on earth.
People often ask me about heaven. Will my grandpa and grandma be there? Will they be the same age- will they like the same things they like(d) on earth? How about my little poodle, "Itty Bit"? Will my pets and my friends be in heaven? From time to time, I am asked these questions and generally I answer, "I don't know." I don't have a definitive answer to most of these questions because heaven is something that still awaits me. In his great vision (Rev. 21), John saw streets of gold and pearly gates, but there is no mention of what our relationships with one another and "daily" life will be like in heaven. It will be a new thing for those of us on earth. I look forward to it with all my heart, but I don't have answers to many of the questions I receive. I have opinions, but they're only opinions. I know many, many people who expect to live with their spouse when they get to heaven, but I also know people who would consider such a reunion to be "hell." Indeed, apart from God's grace, I don't even know if those who are asking me about heaven will actually get to heaven!
People wonder about heaven. My son died when he was just 3, grandpa lived to be 103- will the one be forever a toddler and the other forever old? Will there be diapers in heaven? Baseball? Lawyers? My brother's always been fat- will he be obese in heaven? I don't know, I don't know... but I do know that the river of life runs through heaven, and I know that the communion we share in church is just a foretaste of the banquet we will share, face-to-face, with our Lord and our God. I don't know what will be served, but I do know that the least will be first. I don't know who will be in heaven and who won't be, but I do know that heaven will be filled with forgiven sinners- some of whom gave their life for Christ and some of whom cried out, "Remember me," with their dying breath. I don't what we will do in heaven, but I pray that heaven won't involve any committee meetings. I don't know whether heaven will be filled with traditional or contemporary Christian music, but I do know that heaven will be a place of worship and response. I also know that, in heaven, we will finally be free of self and able, at last, to love God with all of our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. Heaven will be a place of humility. Every knee will bow to Christ and every tongue will confess Him as Lord. I don't know whose names will be written in the Book of Life, but I know that heaven will be filled with people who lived lives marked by the fruit of the Spirit. I also know that everyone in heaven will be childlike, and that heaven will be a place without hospitals, or prisons, or graveyards. There will be no violence, no betrayal, no manipulation, no scorecards; nor will there be any Alzheimer's, or cancer, or addiction, not even any knee replacements in heaven.
Heaven is NOT a place where we will relive our pasts. It is not retro. Heaven is not like, let's say, Des Moines in 1958, nor is it a less troubled version of the world we would like to live in. Heaven is not America without the Clinton's or the Bush's (you choose), nor is it a world with or without political correctness. It is a place of unimaginable and unfettered joy. Many songs have been written about finding heaven in a lover's arms or in a certain way of life. "If heaven ain't a lot like Dixie," Hank Williams Jr. sings, "I don't wanna go. If they don't have a Grand Ole Opry like they do in Tennessee, just send me to hell or NY City, it would be 'bout the same to me." Many of us are just like Hank. If heaven ain't a lot like Iowa, or Texas; if gramma's apple pie isn't on the menu; if things are just as I want them, then I'd just as soon stay home. These thoughts are borne more from ignorance than arrogance. Since we can't imagine the greatness of heaven, our vision is limited by our memories, our fears, and our wishes. We put heaven into a box that is limited by our ignorance, and we continue to ask: will there be love in heaven? Will there be relationships? Of course, but they will not be dependent on appearances, or sex, or politics, or mutual gain. Instead, they will be entirely anchored in Christ, and as such they will transcend anything we can imagine.