Our lesson on the Ascension had concluded, and we’d dismissed for lunch when Kathy and three of her friends apparently wished to play “Stump the Teacher.” Instead, we launched a discussion I hoped to continue. Thanks to a package of “emergency” double-stuffed cookies from my desk, we bought more time. I prayed God would grant us a time we’d never forget.
As I sat perched on the front of my desk, the kids munched their cookies and waited. “I think it must be a God thing that you all asked about the afterlife. I got a WHY TIME question recently that brought the issue to my mind.” I pulled out the yellow slip with the childlike scrawls which read, “What will it [Heaven] look like?” Signed Wyatt, 2nd Grade. The kids passed it around. “Aw, that’s so cute,” the girls gushed.
“I’ve got to tell you guys; I’ve discovered that there is so much more to ‘going to Heaven’ than just the going. You see, God’s Eternal Mysterious Plan wasn’t just to get us back home for an eternal holiday at His house. Jesus never spoke of it as a perpetual vacation just lying around visiting with folks and singing with the angels. When the Bible speaks of Heaven, it’s described as a Kingdom, a Country, a City, a New Heaven and New Earth.” I looked at the group and asked, “How do you imagine Heaven?”
“Streets of GOLD, man! Diamonds and pearls! And a river, too!” Dusty said and high-fived Kathy.
“Will there really be streets of gold?” asked Kathy.
“Good questions! Have you ever tried to draw the color nine? Trying to make us humans understand God’s world is a little like that. Revelation gives us a beautiful word-painting of a world very different from ours. The gold represents no more need, no hunger. The walls say complete safety. The gates and jewels tell us there will be beauty and access. The river is a picture of ongoing life. Only Jesus, the Holy Artist, could paint a word-picture of peace, perfection, and security forever!”
“Yeah, but what about the pearly gates and all that?” Dusty questioned.
Heather, Kathy’s friend, spoke for the first time. “You mean Heaven’s not going to look like it’s described in the Bible? No pearly gates? No streets of gold?”
“Oh, Heather! It’s going to be even better than that! Isaiah, Peter, and John all talk about the time when God will give us a New Heaven and New Earth. In the beginning, God wanted humanity to fill the earth with His glory and govern it! We haven’t done very well on this earth. The sin in Eden resulted in pain, discord between people, and difficulty in obtaining food. But in the New, there will be none of that. We’ll finally subdue the earth (the New Earth) without interference. There will be no more world hunger. We’ll finally love each other completely. God will populate the New Earth (Heaven) with His faithful ones, and no one will ever die again.”
“So what will it be like to live there, then?” Kathy still wanted more, but we were interrupted by the bell.
“How about we pick up there tomorrow. Let’s see how Jesus talked about His new Kingdom. I’ll bring lunch!
(Conclusion next week)