Years ago Art Linkletter hosted a TV show called “House Party,” and the most popular segment was called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” In this part of his show, Linkletter would ask little kids simple questions, such as “What is the first thing you would do if you were president?” or “When the four-alarm bell rings, what is the first thing a fireman does?” or “How does your daddy help your mom around the house?” And then he would wait for their candid, always touching, and sometimes hilarious responses.
Any of us that have had children, and grandchildren if you’re lucky, know they also like to ask questions. A while back, a father said his young daughter asked him this: “Dada, what type of underwear will we wear when we go to heaven?” Now, isn’t that a question you’ve wondered about yourself?
Okay, maybe you haven’t been all that concerned over whether we’ll wear Fruit of the Looms or Hanes, boxers or briefs. But don’t you sometimes pause to consider, if there really is a life after this one – and I’m convinced there is – what it will be like?
The theatrical film, “Heaven Is For Real,” has just been released. I haven’t seen it yet, but did read the book by Todd Burpo it’s based on, and if nothing else, it’s provocative. Numerous other books on the same theme have been written, from 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, a minister, to Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon. While not offering empirical proof, these books drawn from personal experiences are intriguing.
We’ve all seen artwork of people in heaven reclining on clouds, and cartoons of angelic-looking folks floating around with harps in their hands. Those images might be okay for a brief vacation, but for most of us, if that’s all heaven is about, we’re not sure that would be the way we’d like to spend eternity.
So can we know what heaven will be like? Frankly, I don’t think so. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our ability to understand eternal, spiritual existence is about as limited as trying to explain to an unborn child what life will be like after leaving the womb. It’s impossible, since there’s no frame of reference.
But that doesn’t mean heaven has to be a complete mystery. The Bible offers a few tidbits, essentially assuring us terrestrials, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” The apostle Paul was referring to this when he wrote, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). In other words, “I’d explain it to you if I could – but there’s no way I can.”
Speaking to His followers, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you…” (John 14:2). He didn’t elaborate – at least the Scriptures don’t tell us that He did – but basically He was offering assurances that someplace very special awaited them. In other words, “Trust Me on this. It’s going to be really cool – much more than you could ever imagine.”
In the last book of the Bible we read about “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1), a place where pain, sorrow, death and anguish are banished forever. Now that is something to look forward to, isn’t it? “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain; for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
We cling desperately to this earthly life because it’s all we know. And I think God wants it to be that way. When it’s our time to go, He’ll let us know. Until then we’re asked to faithfully live the life He expects of us and respond to opportunities He sends our way. But this “blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) should be something to eagerly anticipate, not fear or dread. The unknown isn’t always a bad thing.
But what’s it going to be like? What are we going to do? After all, eternity is a long time, right? Maybe that information hasn’t been fully revealed because our finite, human minds couldn’t comprehend it anyway. Kind of like trying to explain Euclidian geometry to a hamster.
Think about it this way: If you book a Caribbean cruise, or a vacation at some exotic location, you might see a travel brochure or two, and read a brief description. But nothing can prepare you for everything you’ll experience once you get there. Heaven’s going to be like that – only much, much more. Millions of times over. Don’t even try doing the math!
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.