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The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland has 37,000 gigantic, geometrically perfect polygon columns. Have you been there? They’re extraordinary. But back before photographs, television and the Internet, it was hard to imagine and believe in far off places. “You’re exaggerating! Surely those columns were made from concrete moulds.” Or, “You’re making it all up. They don’t really exist!”
It’s a bit like that with heaven. Because we haven’t been there, we’re tempted to doubt its goodness or wonder if it even exists. In his book, Miracles, C.S. Lewis had a helpful and funny insight about this,
“I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer ‘No,’ he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it.”
So, the right response to wonderful things in this world is to see them as pointers to even greater things in the next. The great missionary of the Bible, Paul, wrote about this in a letter to Christians in the city of Corinth. He said,
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
But if you’re a Christian, then you’ve already seen this. When we had no hope, God sent Jesus to give us the hope of friendship with him and forgiveness of our sins. Who of us could have predicted that through Jesus, God would draw us so close that he would call us sons and daughters?
Further on in that same letter, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to focus on the most exciting prospect of heaven – being in the very presence of God himself.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
In heaven, the Bible says, there will be even be ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain’ (Revelation 21:4). These are exciting promises. Now it’s hard to wait!