10 questions about WHAT HEAVEN will BE LIKE?
This morning, more precisely at 2:34 A.M., I did one of my three or four Lectio Divina meditations, using lasting twenty minutes or more. My Lectio is always Philippians 2:5 and this morning was not an exception. At nearly 80 years of age, my thoughts often meander towards death and what heaven will be like. This is what I thought about this morning.
- How would God, the center of all reality, unapproachable to human nature, communicate to us that He gives us an invitation to join Him after we die? In the Old Testament, He tells us through the prophets and the Law. In the New Testament, He shows us by sending His only begotten Son to give us directions (Scripture). He could have sent us an Email invitation but sent his own Son to show us what to pack for the journey. That Son was and is a sign of contradiction to the Gentiles and a stumbling block for the Jews. Do you know what to pack for the journey?
- God doesn’t walk the path of salvation for us but is with us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit activates this spirit of adoption so that we keep our eyes focused on our heritage. God always gives us help (grace) to face whatever challenges we have but He won’t take this cross from us, as Christ asked Him to do the Garden of Gethsemani. Do you know what the simple response is to God’s mercy? It is “be it done unto me, according to your word.”
- If Heaven is God’s playground and we want to play in his sandbox, we must play by His rules, not ours. Christ tells us there is only one rule: love one another as I have loved you. Have you tried that lately?
- The Son tells us that there are three persons but only one nature in God. Humans have only one nature, that of a human being. Christ, being our brother, has both divine and human nature, much like someone who has dual citizenship. We would not know about the Trinity except through direct revelation.
- Heaven must be consistent with human nature. Read Philippians 2:5-12. God became our nature so that we could begin to prepare on earth for what is to come in heaven. There are a few questions that I have about heaven, in terms of our human condition. Did you see the launching of SpaceX to eventually dock with the Space Station? Our human nature is limited to a certain time (70 or 80 years, if we are strong), and is dependent on our atmosphere to sustain us. Were humans to go into space without artificial help, we could survive. Why is that? We are held hostage by our nature to its limitations, one that says there is a beginning and ending to everything. When Christ comes, he tells us we have a natural beginning, but there is also a deeper reason for our existence, we have an invitation to live beyond death. Now invitation simply does not make any sense with what we know of reality. We call it Baptism, a gift from God for every single human if they want it.
- How will every one fit in heaven, if they don’t all fit on earth? If we have an assumption about heaven that it is just like on earth, then there is a problem. Heaven is not a place with 3Dimensions as much as it is a Divine Nature and it doesn’t exist in space, time, or energy that we know about. Christ came down to tell us in person not to worry about it, that we will be just fine, to trust in God that He knows what he is doing. Christ also showed us what to pack in our bag to Forever. Read Matthew 25:36ff. He told His Apostles to pass on to the communities of believers what He had shown them in this life with them. Read John 20:30-31 to find out why the Scriptures were written.
- Grace builds on nature and so does our interaction with the world around us. We find what is meaningful through our senses. Animals also do that, but we have two things they don’t have. 1. The Ability to Reason and 2., We are free to choose what we reason. Heaven, it would seem, would have to be consistent with our nature for us to appreciate what awaits us in Heaven. Here are some seeming problems, if we are transported from our world to the Kingdom of Heaven.’
- We don’t have clothes in Heaven like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.
- Will there be seasons of hot and cold? We are used to these atmospheric changes.
- There is no marriage in Heaven. If you have married two or three times, who will be your spouse?
- John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is going back to the Father as our mediator and friend to prepare a place for us. There are many mansions in heaven, according to Jesus. Do we pay rent for these? Is there someone to cut the grass?
- Do we have hospitals in Heaven?
- What do we eat in Heaven? Humans can’t exist without food, or more importantly water.
- While we prepare to go to heaven while on earth, God’s grace is sufficient. God gives us what we need to survive. In Heaven, will that be the case?
Cistercian spirituality has helped me in this terminal stage of my time on earth, but it has also provided me with focused opportunities to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, attend Eucharist, read Sacred Scripture daily, practice forgiving others and asking for God’s mercy, and Lectio Divina, to name a few ways. I suspect I will continue to do that after I die. Mainly, I trust that the words of Christ to those who love him are true and the eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has waitingfor us. Faith sustains us while we await the next portal, Hope maintains us while we suffer the temptations to abandon Christ, but it is Love that propell us forward towards our true destiny as a human being.
While at Starbucks for a cup of delicious coffee, an agnostic friend of mine asked me what I would do if I knew that an asteroid would hit the earth in one hour and end all life? I looked at him, smiled, and told him, “I would ask for another refill of coffee.”
Relax! Trust in God! In the silence and solitude of your heart, give praise to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology