A heavenly country

20 Feb

Everyone has their own interpretation of heaven. Some people think that it’s an endless expanse of sky with white puffy clouds and nothing to do but play harps and eat Philadelphia cream cheese. Others think that heaven doesn’t exist at all. Once you leave earth, there’s nothing. Or maybe they think that heaven is part of earth, like the white sandy beaches of the Cayman Islands. Some people might think heaven is whatever you loved on earth all together in one place, like in the movie What Dreams May Come.

But for Christians, it’s none of those things. Instead, it’s a city where the streets are gold and there are no lamps and no sun; nevertheless, it is always day because the light of the Lamb reaches to all places. It’s the presence of God, intimate and forever. It’s no longer having sinful flesh but rather, gloriously resurrected bodies. It is perfection beyond any human expectation or imagination.

That’s what I have to look forward to. That’s what makes my life here on earth worth living and indeed, worth enduring. Even though my daily troubles seem puny compared to the human suffering I hear and read about–like just tonight, I read about female genital mutilation in countless third world countries–my life wouldn’t be worth living if I didn’t have such an end. I am always confounded by those who don’t believe that anything happens when we die. My roommate in college believed that. What do we have to live for if there is nothing after this life?

Moreover, if the glorious new earth described in the book of Revelations is not true, and if Jesus Christ did not die and rise again for the forgiveness of sins, we who are Christians have nothing to live for either. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Christians–and I believe all people–need something to live for beyond this life. For “…If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people to be pitied,” because this life is hard and messy.

I have felt that truth about life living out in Colorado. I love my job and the people we’ve met and I’m with my wonderful husband. So I have a lot to be thankful for. But I miss my friends more than anything. Humans were made for community. Not just Christians but humans in general. I believe that God designed us to need each other. So leaving behind my very best friends has been very hard.

I feel at times like Travis and I are going through life alone, just the two of us vs. the Great Big World. It may be because when we became Christians 4 years ago, the first Body of believers we plugged into was a group fully bought into the value of discipleship. We had the importance of one-on-ones and intentional relationships drummed into our heads day after day. And I loved it. I loved being in a discipleship group and meeting once a week with a group of my girlfriends. We talked about boys, bodily functions, random things, and the Bible. We related our insecurities, our longings, our struggles, our joys and successes. I felt so close to those girls, not only because we shared the bond of the Spirit but because they bared their hearts to me and I to them.

But out here, I have not found this. I have met some great women through our church that I am excited to get to know. But it seems that the potential of that deep relationship forming is small when we only get together once every other week and everyone has husbands, kids, and full-time jobs. It looked different as a college student in a campus ministry.

So I have been delighted by the reminder of my real home: heaven. C. S. Lewis writes in his book The Great Divorce, “I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in the ‘High Countries.'” The fellowship I so desire, the bridge over the gap in human intimacy and vulnerability, will be waiting for me in heaven. And more than that, it will be beyond expectation: all believers will be together in perfect union as we worship and adore the Lamb of God forever.

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