What will heaven be like?
Question: What will heaven be Like? Will it be boring?
Response: I’m pretty sure heaven will be “eternal,” in the Biblical sense of the word, which means something like “of the age.” Which begs the question: “What age?” I think the correct answer is “God’s age,” the endless seventh day, that is the Shemini Atzeret or eighth day, that is God’s rest when “everything is Good” and “It is finished.”
OK? But what will that be like?
I think most folks think it will be endless time (chronological time). Boring.
But I don’t think Heaven can be “endless time.” Jesus is “the End” – and doesn’t that naturally imply the end of chronological time? He’s the “Lord of the Sabbath” (the 7th day). He’s Beginning and End and the Way in between (according to the Revelation and Gospel of John); he’s the Plot (Logos) to the Story. He’s all events in one moment. If Jesus fills all things, heaven can’t be endless, but only End-full, for Heaven is full of Jesus (Eph. 4:10).
I used to think “eternity” was perhaps “timeless.” But now I suspect it’s more like “time-full.” It’s not that there is no “time,” but that we are no longer prisoners of time; we can move through time and experience time as we desire, but all time will be filled with the Meaning, the Plot, Jesus. It’s as Jesus once told my friend who had lost all five of her children in the most horrific of ways… Jesus would give her visions of her children in his arms – when she asked why they were still young, he responded, “they’re waiting for you to raise them.” She thought she had forever lost those “times,” but Jesus will make those times new and invite her to live them.
Jesus said, “he who would save his psyche will lose it, but he who loses his psyche for my sake and the gospel’s will find it.” “Psyche” is translated “soul” or “life;” it’s your particular life; it’s your mental emotional paradigm of reality, your hopes, dreams, experiences, etc. Well, it must be your psyche, your particular life, that you lose AND your psyche, your particular life, that you find (but not as it was, but better than you ever hoped it could be). We must each sacrifice our psyche on Mt. Calvary, to receive it back. When we receive it back, I suspect it will no longer be our “own” private lonely possession, but a communion of love that is eternal Life. I doubt that we can say this accurately with human words, but Jesus (The End, Beginning, and Way – the Plot) will fill all things including my psyche, and I will welcome his presence for I will have faith that He is Good.
I suspect that each of our lives, or psyches, are analogous to a book. We now read that book in fear, not trusting that the plot is good. But once the book is read, and we trust that the plot is good, we can go back and read it (or live it) with deeper and deeper meaning and greater and greater joy. I think Heaven is at least that, and probably so much more than that.
My Father had visions of Pennsylvania Woods before he died. He was so excited because that’s what he loved. I remember thinking, “I hope I get vision of a particular beach in the Caribbean and my thirty-year-old bride in a particular bikini—with her sixty-year-old brain and a longing to relive those days.” And I think I will! But space and time will not limit either of us to that reality. And so, my dreams will not limit Susan’s dreams of sitting by a fire in a cabin, hugging each other while drinking hot chocolate, and listening to Christmas music. My brain, stuck in space and time, can’t put all of that together quite yet. But if I’m to be filled with light – and time (and space) are somehow relative to light – then, quantum physics would indicate that these apparently contradictory realities are a possibility… maybe even a necessity.
Paul wrote “hope does not disappoint us” (Rom. 5:5). I think he meant “any hope.” We will one day see that we can only truly hope in the Good, since evil is ultimately and ontologically non-substantial… Well, I think all my hopes and dreams will be purified and filled with the presence of Truth, Logic, Meaning, and Love (Jesus) in such a way that, without fear and shame, I will constantly rejoice in living my life. It won’t be boring, for boredom is a function of being trapped in time, and I won’t be trapped in time but the master of time, and I’m sure I won’t simply be “re-living” the life I only started to live here.
I will not only live “my life,” I will live Jesus’ life and I think we will all rejoice in living each other’s lives. This is what we do every time we read a book or share a story at a party, but in heaven the communion will be infinitely rich, and no one will be possessive of their life (their psyche). This thought freaks people out because we have a very hard time imagining a life without sin, fear, and abuse. Jesus said that there will be no “giving or taking” in marriage. But I don’t think this is because no one will be married, but we will all be married to Jesus and to each other and no one will want a divorce… I’m saying that I think we will share psyches with each other, and with God, while maintaining individual “personhood.” I suspect that all our relationships will be like those within the Godhead: many persons and one substance, which is love. In John 17 Jesus even prays that this would be the case!
I get really excited about this until I think of other folks impinging on my romantic beach fantasy with Susan. I’m trusting that I won’t be disappointed – we’ll still have our eternal secluded picnic, or we’ll see other people differently and their presence won’t constitute some sort of licentious orgy, or I’ll remember that secluded beach picnics get boring after a thousand years and welcome other experiences. I don’t know, but I trust that God will work it out…and I’ll be grateful.
The pictures of the New Jerusalem, the Great Wedding Banquet (Honeymoon!), and every other picture of “Heaven” found in Scripture, are all pictures of things people enjoy here, but on some sort of eternal steroid. Heaven isn’t standing in choir robes singing boring songs because your mom told you that you had to do it. I don’t think there’s any way that I could stand with Jesus in the New Creation and be disappointed or bored. Heaven is all things made new, and if it’s eternal, how could those things ever get old? It’s all things new including my ability to enjoy all things – once again I will rejoice in flushing things down toilets, just as I did when I was two. “All things new” (Rev.21:5) would include space, time, people, ski days, romantic vacations, Caribbean beaches, Pennsylvanian woods, good food, fascinating conversations, etc., etc., but not evil. Evil is not made new, for evil is not a thing, but a no-thing, a shadow waiting to be filled with eternal light… So, if “evil” is made new, it is then called “good.”
It will all be Good, and we will have knowledge of the “not-Good,” and so be End-fully (rather than endlessly) grateful for who we are: the Image and likeness of God.
And OH Yeah, this really blows my mind, but I think we will somehow share in God’s freedom. God’s imagination is called “reality.” And agreement with God’s imagination is called faith (it’s the thing God is creating in us in this “fallen” illusory world). Well, if that’s the case – that we will share in God’s freedom and create reality – it’s a logical impossibility for one of us to be bored or disappointed in heaven for that would mean that we were imagining a reality greater than reality, but if our imagination is God’s imagination there can be no reality greater than reality. I think we will create reality with God, and constantly rejoice in our good creation. It will not be boring.
TS Eliot, said it this way:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.