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Chapter 5: Forget What You Feel

Leave it to human beings to take that glorious promise of eternal rest and conclude that heaven must be “boring.”  We imagine floating on a lonely cloud with our wings and halo looking around and wishing we had a cell phone to mess on or a book to read.  One famous cartoonist depicted two angelic humans floating along looking forlorn and bored, while one looks at the other and says, “I miss stress.”

Preachers don’t even help with this misconception too much themselves.  Almost every sermon I’ve heard on heaven talks about massive amounts of people all huddled around the throne of God singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” throughout eternity.  I remember in college hearing a professor give that same description of heaven during a chapel service with the whole student body.  I thought then what I think now: if you’re trying to sell people on the magnificence of heaven, being crammed shoulder to shoulder in a sea of humanity, all singing the same thing over and over while standing before a King’s throne, for a bazillion years isn’t the way to do it.

Whenever I point that out to a minister they usually get defensive and say things like, “Well that’s the great difficulty of trying to describe the indescribable.”  Not to be argumentative, because I do believe as mortal humans we are completely impotent to even attempt to put words to what is awaiting us in heaven.  But if what you’re describing to people sounds boring to them, then you should either find a better way of describing it or you should just stop trying. 

Because what the Bible reveals about heaven tells us that there won’t be a millisecond of boredom there.  It tells us we won’t have:

  • An instant of frustration.  No more being the one car in your lane that doesn’t make it through the stoplight before it turns.  No more switching grocery store aisles to get behind someone with fewer items only to have the register go down.

  • A single sickness.  No more nausea.  No more headaches.  No more allergies.  No more pain.

  • A hint of depression.  No more feeling isolated when you are surrounded by people.  No more confusion as to why you feel in a funk when you have every reason to be happy.

  • A moment of aggravation.  No more people eating with their mouths open.  No more political posturing by celebrities or sports stars.  No more couples sitting on the same side of the booth when there’s a perfectly usable other side sitting empty.

The truth is that Scripturally, “eternal rest” would be better translated and understood “eternal enjoyment.”  We know that there is no night in heaven (Revelation 22:5), and that we are given new spiritual bodies for the experience (1 Corinthians 15:35-38).  Have you paused to consider why that is?  The answer is self-evident: so you never stop seeing it and never tire of experiencing it.  Remember that’s what we’re promised in the age to come:

In order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace (Ephesians 2:7)

What does “incomparable” mean?  Try to think of the best experience you’ve ever had.  It’s tough to do on the spot.  It’s tough to do when you’re writing a book and have time to sit and think it through.  But let me offer this as my example:

Not long ago, we went as a family to Walt Disney World in Florida.  At the time, my children were 7, 5, and 3.  My wife’s parents came down to join us for a few days and offered to keep the kids one night back at our hotel room so Jenny and I could go enjoy ourselves.  The kids were content and happy.  The weather was perfect – mid 70s, gentle breeze, and dusk.  Jenny and I went to the Magic Kingdom where there was virtually no crowd.  We walked on ride after ride.  We had a huge meal at our favorite place in the park.  Later I had an ice cream sandwich that was bigger than my face, and she had a fruity-chocolate-waffle thingy that was twice the size of my ice cream sandwich.  The lighting around the park was amazing, the sights and sounds were happy, and so were we.  I will never forget that evening. 

Thinking back on it even now, I can remember only two problems with the night: it was way too short, and my body got way too tired.  I blame the earth’s rotation for the first, and I blame the way my kids have aged me for the second.  I’m guessing no matter what experience you came up with as your best ever, your problems might be the exact same two – you eventually wore out (or would have) and it eventually ended. 

Now here’s the truth about heaven: your best day here is Hell compared to your first moment in heaven.  The experience of heaven will dwarf anything you’ve ever known.  And the best part?  It will never end, and you will never tire.  It is truly incomparable, inexpressible, and inexplicable.

Sometimes when I peruse social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat, I will see fellow believers I follow on those apps post spectacular pictures of nature.  Whenever there’s a notably beautiful sunset in the area, you’re guaranteed to see about 50 pictures of it appear that night on people’s posts.  They usually add a funny caption like “God Art” or “I see you doing work, God.”  But the truth is we have no idea.  Paul writes as much to the Corinthians:

What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Think about that.  No eye has seen anything like what God is preparing for us.  Take the most amazing sunset over a beach, the most breathtaking canyon with trees and water lining its valley, the most awe-inspiring clouds rolling through the highest mountain passes, and it’s not even in the realm of similar to what heaven is like.  You can’t even conceive of it in your mind...