“We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” –I Thessalonians 4:13-14
A few months ago, we were having trouble going to church as a family. Well, let me rephrase that–we were going to church as a family, but sometimes I wondered just how much we were all getting out of the time we spent at church.
This is not to say there is anything wrong with our church. The people are kind, warm, welcoming, and genuine worshippers of God. The pastor preaches from his heart about relevant topics and links them to Bible truth. The children’s program is robust and engaging. Everything should have been wonderful, correct?
Except my four-year-old son did not want to go to the children’s classes. When he thought of being without us, he became frightened and clung to us all the harder. We reassured him over and over that we were close by and we would be there to pick him up after the service. Thankfully, over the course of a few weeks, his fears diminished. Now he eagerly looks forward to church, and enjoys singing, playing, and learning about God with his peers.
Watching my son deal with anxiety at leaving the familiar for the new made me think about how we sometimes feel anxious about leaving Earth for Heaven. When we die and leave our earthly bodies behind, we will step into a life we could never have imagined. We see glimpses of what this new life will look like in the Bible, but some of the images may seem frightening. Legions of angels? Strange creatures that fly and continually shout about God’s glory? Gates made of pearls and streets paved with gold may be a little easier to imagine, but they’re still a lot to take in.
Heaven will be dramatically different from what we know, but the one thing that will remain familiar is God’s love for us. Jesus will be waiting for us, loving us as much as He did while He was on earth. We will be reunited with family and friends gone before. We will be able to fully know–and be known by–people we never met on earth. The life we lived on earth will seem like such a short time in the face of eternity.
Like my son, we may worry about leaving the familiar for the new. Some good ways to prepare our hearts and minds are:
- Pray and ask God to ease your fears. He loves us and knows us intimately, and He cares about what worries us.
- Read about Heaven in God’s Word (my favorite passage is Revelation 4). Look up Heaven in a concordance (a book about topics discussed in the Bible, and where to find them). Some Bibles may also have keywords in the back with references for each subject. Visit an online Bible site (such as Bible Gateway) and search for Heaven.
- Read accounts of people who have been given glimpses of Heaven. While these are not a substitute for Biblical truth, they can be exciting and encouraging. Try “Heaven is for Real” by Colton Burpo, or “90 Minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper.
God has always meant for Heaven to be our true home. We will have new bodies, meant to last forever. We will be able to spend eternity worshipping and praising God. There will be no more sin and no more death. Now that’s something to look forward to!