Sometimes I like to play this silly little game with myself when I am somewhere new. I call it ‘putting on my heaven glasses.’ I start by observing my surroundings, soaking in all the sights, sounds and smells around me. Then, I try to identify the things that appear to be full of life vs. the things that appear to be sick, decaying or dying.
- Trees – Are they flourishing? Lush? Vibrant? Diseased? Dried up? Rotten? Dead?
- Birds– Are they chirping happily? Bickering? Squawking a warning?
- Sky – Brilliant blue? Overcast? Stormy? Clear? Light? Dark?
- Ambiance – Fast-paced? Wealthy? Poor? Dangerous? Desolate?
- Buildings – High-end? Shabby? Modern? Traditional? Functional? Beautiful?
- People – Do they seem happy? Busy? Stressed? Depressed? Numb? High?
Then, I try to imagine what the dead and decaying things would look like in a new world, in a place where all things will be restored to their original form, perfect, without flaws, without disease or death, as they were intended to be, forever. And even the things that appear to be full of life-a majestic oak tree, a sparkling creek bed full of fish, a brightly colored butterfly, a full-bodied glass of red wine-could be wonderfully more vibrant, more glorious, more complete in a new world.
When we took a family vacation to the lovely beach town of Seaside (confession: we actually rented behind Seaside where prices were significantly cheaper!), I couldn’t help but try on my ‘heaven glasses.’
One afternoon, I went on a long, meandering bike ride down the famous pedestrian-friendly Highway 30A to enjoy the adorable cottage-like homes (mansions, let’s be honest) that line the beach for miles.
Here’s what I observed to be full of LIFE in Seaside:
- Community – People walking, talking, biking, feasting, gathering to enjoy music, a good meal, a bonfire on the beach, a movie on the grassy bowl. Together.Families. Friends. This, to me, is a glimpse of what heaven might be like: a huge gathering of people from every color and every nation coming together to feast and dance and sing and worship.
- Pace – Everyone is relaxed. No one’s in a rush. The schedule is loose. Time moves slowly. It is a time of rest, respite, of slowing down, of taking refreshment. God rested and He created us with bodies that need rest. Imagine what rest might be like in heaven?
- Pleasure– Things like eating a delicious meal, dancing to beautiful music, enjoying a sweet glass of sangria, taking a nap on the beach, reading a good book, getting dressed up for a fun occasion, enjoying the pleasure of sex…yes, all of these things, I believe are merely glimpses of what is to come!
- Creation– We enjoyed the deep blues and greens of the sea, of sunsets that filled the sky with every shade of orange, of watching our kids’ delight when they discovered starfish and sea urchins and sand dollars.What a playful, creative God we have!
But currently, there is a lot of brokenness in this world. Here’s how I saw it manifest in Seaside:
- Isolation-Despite the appearance of community, I noticed a lot of man-made attempts to create privacy, separation, and distance. Every community had an access code. To the pool, the tennis court, the golf course and the boat house. The bigger the houses became, the more isolated they seemed. Size and security created distance. I imagine quite the opposite in heaven – that we will have an all-access pass. No one is restricted or excluded. We are all members of the same club. And what a rich inheritance it is!
- Diversity– This became most apparent one night when my family gathered on the grassy lawn in the middle of town for a picnic. I was taken aback at how much everyone looked the same. Caucasian. Tan. Beautiful. Wealthy. The men wore Vineyard Vines t-shirts and plaid shorts. The women wore short lacey shorts and silk tops. I felt like I was at a sorority reunion.Something tugged at my heart, a sadness, at seeing such a homogeneous crowd. Bland. Boring. Dull. The only ones who stood out: a little black girl who belonged ti a white couple and a child with some type of muscular disorder, that severely affected her ability to walk. No, I don’t imagine we will all look the same in heaven. I can’t wait to meet people from every tribe, every nation, every color, ever language. God made each one of us uniquely beautiful, in His image.
- Materialism– I saw an attempt to satisfy our God-given longing with material things. Big fancy boats. Expensive clothes. Gigantic homes. Over-the-top parties. Name-dropping. Connections. Who’s who. What community do you live in, which street, which block. Keeping up with the Joneses. I felt it. Everywhere. Part of me wanted to be an insider. But I could see it for what it was. Emptiness. A chasing after the wind. In the new heavens and new earth, there will be no need to buy things to try and satisfy that longing. Because God Himself will satisfy our every desire. He made us. He knows us. And He loves us. I can’t wait to be in my Father’s House…where there are many mansions!
I encourage you to try to ‘put on your heaven glasses’ some time. Get a little creative as you try to imagine what the beautiful and the broken aspects of this world may look like in the life to come!