During college some friends and I spent some time at a camp in southern Wisconsin. The trip was meant to be a time of training and growing spiritually, and it was. Near the place we were sleeping was a small room dedicated to the founder of the camp. The founder was a collector of unique rocks. Our leader insisted on going to the rock room. So twelve college students crammed into a room meant for eight and didn’t leave any space for Jesus. As a tall person looking over everyone’s shoulder, the rocks we had come to see weren’t that impressive. Some cool swirls and interesting structures, but largely boring. The lights were turned off and a black light was flipped on to reveal a whole new set of colors coming from the radioactive rocks. Slightly more cool, but still rocks and not worth getting my toes crushed. In the course of life we experience disappointment on an almost daily basis. Books and movies build to a climax and then destroy all our hopes and dreams for our favorite characters. Family member crush our trust. Friends stab us in the back. Your grandma gifts you socks for Christmas…again. With all this going on around us how can we not wonder if the life to come in heaven will really be all that great?
What we are told of heaven isn’t much. There is an infuriating lack of details and some of the “details” were are given in scripture could be metaphor referring to something else entirely. What we are told in scripture is hotly debated by smart people, so how can we make sense of heaven. With all the lack of details, our minds are free to construct, remodel, and shape our idea of heaven. What do we really know about heaven?
Heaven is the place where God’s throne is. In Acts 7: 49, 50 Stephen is about to be stoned and is using Isaiah 66 to defend his position that God does not have to live anywhere but where he chooses, since he made everything. In the Lord’s prayer, heaven is mentioned as the place where God is, we could probably take that to mean that heaven is where God lives. We also know that heaven is currently inhabited by angels and other spiritual beings and that the current heaven is going to be remade or renewed after Christ returns. But that is about it. What about the rest? What will we do day after day after day? How can it really be all that great? I mean it’s better than the other place but is it really all that?
I know that those are a lot of questions, but they all have only one answer, God. There is a ton of speculation about what we will and won’t be able to do. It seems logical to many to assume that we will be able to interact with creation in a redeemed way. However, the ability to do that pales in comparison to being with God. To see him as he is. To have nothing separating us. To well and truly see his face. Ah, now that, that is something to long for. That is something to wonder at. It is something promised to Christians in Revelation 21.
I don’t want to marginalize the questions about heaven or what is will be like. Those questions are important. However, we don’t really know what heaven will be like, and God didn’t give us enough to go on to make sound guesses. But, who freaking cares what heaven will be like! God will be there! Why would I care about anything else!? The love of loves. The God of gods. My beloved will be mine in all of his splendor. I don’t really care what I will do, as long as I do it with/for him. I don’t really care if I’m terrified of eternity, as long as I get to spend it with him. I don’t really care if it doesn’t meet my expectations (though that I highly doubt) because he is the only thing that I’m anticipating. I don’t need a mansion in heaven. I don’t need the streets of gold. I don’t need the sea of glass. I don’t need the tearless days. What I need, and what I desperately want, is to be with God, and wherever that is, whatever that means, whatever I have to do to get there, he is what I want.
The cool part is that many of the things that I want about heaven I have already thanks to my relationship with God purchased by the cross. Many of them aren’t complete yet. Like a painting hiding behind a curtain, I can’t really experience all that it is. But, what I have seen makes me long for the full reveal. Until then, I can wait with what the bible calls “eager expectation”.
But to answer the original question, no. I don’t think it’s bad to think that heaven could be a bit better, because anything that I could come up with will get blasted out of this universe when I get there, and all my imaginings and expectations will fall pitifully short with the reality of what I’ll be experiencing with him.