I got into a discussion with some friends on an internet gaming website the other day. The question posed by a regular contributor was, “Where is heaven?” Not a question you would normally expect from this crowd, but they surprise me at their depth and insight from time to time. There were a variety of answers from heaven being another dimension, a place way up in the sky, being right here to somewhere out there. We get the idea that heaven is up in the sky because the Bible talks about Jesus ascending up into heaven, and that He will come back the same way. What kind of body does people have in heaven? Same as here or different? One man suggested some added physical dimensions like being able to walk through walls and yet eat food.
I guess all of us are curious about what happens after death, and if there is an afterlife, what will it be like? My opinion is that I don’t know where heaven is, but it must be pretty good from the Biblical accounts and from stories from people with near-death stories or have actually died for a few minutes. We mere mortals don’t have a language to describe it or the concept with which to understand it. We talk about streets of gold, gates of pearls and fine stones for those are the only words we know to describe something precious and desirable. However, there is the joke about the rich man who wanted to carry a suitcase of gold through the gates of heaven, and Paul asked him why he would want to bring pavement to heaven? Pretty funny, huh? It’s all about perception.
When I was a child, I thought heaven was a place way up in the sky, and was a place where we would eventually go if we were good. I suppose I still see it as a destination for the future, but I also believe it is here, now, and around us everywhere, all the time. God is omnipresent and omniscience, as the people of Israel found out when they wound up in Babylon, away from their beloved Jerusalem. He was there also.
I see heaven at work all around me. God is active. Since I have been doing the fund-raising for the non-profit project we have underway with our organization, I see Him bring all the details together day after day, and I stand amazed. Not that He does it, but that it is amazing each time He does it. Yesterday, I briefly spoke at a musical benefit where the food proceeds were going to our organization. I simply asked for whatever help anyone could bring, and mentioned we needed an old chandelier for the stage area. Immediately, a man donated an old wagon wheel light fixture, and two women offered to help in any way they could. One woman gave her last $5 bill. I hated to take it, but knew it was important for her to give it. (I will make sure it goes to good use.) The other woman has a talent we really need. I went there, and He brought the people to me for His purposes. Divine appointments, I call them. It’s been this way since I started. There have not been huge donations, but gifts from ordinary people wanting to help with a good cause. (We are helping teenagers have a safe place to go.)
I can’t help but wish more people would look for heaven around them. It’s there, but so many can’t see it, or actually stumble over it without realizing it. What joy it brings, and what amazement!
I heard a pastor the other day say if given the choice for everyone to spend one moment in heaven or hell, he would pick hell for everyone so they would see what was in store for them if they didn’t accept salvation. I thought about it for a while, and think I would have to chose a moment in heaven. Why? I need all the visualization and inspiration I can get to encourage me forward. I know faith is all I need, but it would be tempting to see it experiential with sight, sound, and surroundings. I know God will use a healthy fear, but I believe He works most by love and goodness that is hard for us to resist. It is His character.