By Dr. Foster H. Shannon
This life has its ups and downs. Its disappointments and victories. Its truths and its falsehoods. One can live a life of discouragement and loss—or one of sound hope and joy. If you think of life as a book, the last chapter has to be fulfilled. For the one who believes in Christ, the last chapter is Heaven, eternal joy with our great God. Hopefully, we all have visions for success in business, in education, in music, in politics, in writing and more—but all of these are just on the way; important and significant, but not final. Our destiny is either with God – or with eternal separation from God!
Someone asked me, “When we are in Heaven will we just sit on a cloud playing a harp? Is that all there will be in eternity?”
Similar questions illustrate the paucity of the knowledge and imagination of many when it comes to contemplation of the life to come. When we bring together all of the teachings in the Bible regarding Heaven (even though we do not see as clearly as we might like) we surely will realize that it will, indeed, be a marvelous, wonderful life!
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” (I Corinthians 2:9)
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalm 23:6)
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
An important observation that we might make about heaven is that it gives substance, meaning to life; for living this life according to the will of God. Rene Pache wrote in his very fine book, The Future Life,
“If another world does not exist, nothing in this life makes any sense.”
All that is wrong will be made right by God. His judgment will come upon those who disregard him, and his blessing upon those who believe in him. Awareness and belief in the life to come is vital to maintaining the present life in its proper perspective. We are limited, both by our experience and by the limitations of human reason, because we are not yet ready for the full disclosure of the heavenly vision, just as a three year old is not ready for many of the realities of adulthood.
Heaven is a holy place (in full trust with the character of Jesus Christ). Everything in heaven must be in harmony with the presence of God.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18)
“Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:13)
Wherever we are—in success or failure—in sickness or in health, we can always rejoice in our Lord and in his salvation!