At Becca’s prompting, I’ll share a little about a book we read, “Heaven”, by Randy Alcorn. My brother gave me the book a few days before we returned to Ethiopia, and I actually finished it several months ago but have been thinking about how to share it. Obviously, I liked it. In brief, it contains the thoughts and ideas coming from the author’s study about what the Bible teaches regarding heaven. Additionally, he addresses several commonly held ideas, assumptions and thoughts about heaven that he feels are inaccurate. In particular, he attacks the idea that heaven, as established by God when Christ returns, will be some kind of other-worldly, non-physical reality where we float around as spirits and do who-knows-what… things “beyond our imagination.” Alcorn rather teaches that upon Christ’s return God is going to establish a New Heaven and a New Earth that is very much physical, just like this one. That is, just as we are going to undergo a physical resurrection and receive from God redeemed and imperishable bodies; so too the universe itself will be resurrected physically and be freed from the curse of the fall.

One mistake many of us make is that we admit heaven is real and wonderful and lovely and perfect but we insist that it must be something completely incomprehensible. Because anything we can dream about or imagine must either be the stuff of childish fairy tales (not reality) or hopelessly destroyed in our fallen, imperfect state as sinful people. So we may get the idea that heaven is going to be nothing more than an eternity-long worship service, singing song after song after song after song. I feel confident that heaven will certainly include singing God’s praises but that seems to fall short as a totality. Alcorn writes, and I agree with him, that in this New Heaven and New Earth, we’re actually going to do some things and those things are going fulfill and answer deep longings within each of us that we may have previously disregarded as belonging to the realm of fairy tales and daydreams. It is encouraging, exciting and invigorating to think that my deepest longings, desires and loves, including those that may not be satisfied by a billion years of “Amazing Grace”, may be God-given echoes of how life was supposed to be and will be someday; and all to His praise and glory.

One aspect of the book that I appreciated was that he took a look at the Bible to see what it actually had to say about heaven and the eternal life regenerated people can expect. When addressing this question, I and many other people in my life have simply thrown up our hands and exclaimed the impossibility of even imagining it… so why try? It was a joy to see that the Bible does in fact give us some ideas of what is coming even though it can’t express it in its totality. While it’s true we can’t imagine the fullness and magnitude of life after Christ’s return, that doesn’t mean we have absolutely no reference point from which to start.

As a disclaimer, Alcorn includes areas of speculation and personal ideas in the book but I think he’s up front in pointing out his personal opinions. That being said, though, it has some solid thought that is well documented from the Bible.

Anyway, I like to mull these things around in my head and I was three pages into my thoughts and reasoning for this blog when I realized how kind of goofy it was to pile all that into writing unless someone really wants to know it. So, I shortened it back to this. Read this book if you would like but definitely take the time to contemplate what God has purposed and purchased for us. God is using this time in Ethiopia to teach me more and more that my portion and reward is Him and that I will not experience that fully until Christ comes back. The rest is secondary. And it really is worth it. It’s one thing to say that and another to live by it but I’m experiencing the truth of it.