It’s one of the questions I get so often, “What is Heaven like?” We all want to know the answers. Countless books have been written (there are some really good ones) about near death experiences. I have to tell you right off the bat there is mystery in answering this question. There is no way for us to know all the details because you and I have lived our whole life trapped in a body: we’re trapped by time and space and life after death will be life in the spirit, no longer trapped by time and space. It is something we’ve never experienced and so you can never really understand it completely for now.
#1 BORN INTO THE ARMS OF GOD
I believe that when you die you are born into the arms of God. You know the presence of God and you will know the presence of those you have loved and those who have loved you. I believe the Bible tells us that death is not the end, it is a doorway into a new existence. Everybody who’s had near-death experiences all talk about going to “the light,” being drawn to a presence, a being, that is so loving and all-accepting described as God or Jesus. In John 14:3, Jesus said And if I go I will come again and take you to myself that where I am you may be also. We are born into the arms of God. Jesus said to the thief on the cross Today you will be with me, you will be with me in Paradise. I believe that what we know is that we are born into the arms of God, into His presence, and those that we know and those that we love. I believe the Bible tells us clearly, I believe it is the affirmation of our church, I believe it is what we see happen in the world: death is simply a veil, a doorway into a new experience where you are born into the arms of God and into the presence of those you love. I wish I could give more detail but we cannot know that until we step over the line. We trust it’s going to be good.
#2 HEAVEN IS LOVE
Secondly, when people talk about Heaven it’s all about feeling loved and accepted unconditionally. The Bible tells us it’s going to be about love. The tradition of the church and what our Bible tells us supports what so many people who have experienced a near death experience ant that is that they don’t want to come back. Marsha had an aunt who was in a serious accident and she had to be resuscitated and they did resuscitate her and when she came back she was mad as could be. (laughter) She said she’d been climbing a ladder and kept getting to the top to where this incredible party was going on and life seemed to be so good and she was being drawn in and something kept pulling her back and it was the prayers of family and friends and finally she was pulled back and came back. She was not happy. She said it was so good! She came back and lived fully for many years but when that day came for her to be ready to go home she was not afraid. She knew that it was going to be all about love.
#3 IF SEEING IS BELIEVING
I believe that reality is more than just what you can see, touch, feel and hear. This is really all about trusting in God’s love for us. You and I live in a society, a time in history, when we believe what is real is what you can see, it’s what you can touch, it’s what you can hold on to. There was a point in time when everyone believed in and embraced mystery. It was easy to believe in Heaven and angels and all kinds of things and then we came to the 1700s, Isaac Newton began to help us come out of this age of superstition and into the age of reason. We needed to do that and Isaac Newton was a man of faith and he believed that science would prove God. He began to make all kinds of discoveries and said, what is real, can you touch it, can you measure it, can you feel it? He moved us into the age of science but a strange thing happened, as we became more scientific we no longer trusted mystery. We began to believe the only true things were those that you could see and we stopped believing that there was something more. I believe reality includes both and that science is never at odds with religion. Science simply discovers God’s Creation. But it doesn’t tell us all of God’s Creation. Our senses limit us from seeing what is more.
As followers of Christ, we know reality is more than what we can see and hold. We trust in the promise of God’s grace, that when we die we’re born into the arms of God and we’re born into the presence of those we love and who have loved us and it’s going to be better than anything that you and I can imagine, where all our needs will be met. I wish I could give you details but all I can tell you about is trusting in Christ’s love for you.
Jesus said Don’t be afraid, in my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you and if I go I will come again and take you to myself and where I am you may be also. –John 14:2
You and I are the people who trust in the Resurrection and the promise of Easter and THAT’s why we have hope in Heaven.