Heaven

The Parties of Heaven (part 2)

“I saw the common things drawn into the bright shadow.” – C.S. Lewis

I saw a photograph of deeply green forested mountains. Far away in one of the valleys was glimpse of a ferris wheel and colorful carnival tents. There were no roads, cars, or parking lots. It looked as if the only way to get to the carnival was to walk or ride horse through the woods. 

The picture had a strong effect on me, a feeling that has occurred several times in my life. Has this happened to you? — It felt like an invitation, and a memory of something I hadn’t yet experienced. In C.S. Lewis’s book, Surprised by Joy, he describes experiences like this (which he says were actually very instrumental in his conversion from atheism to Christianity).

“…the memory of a memory…and before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased. It was something quite different from ordinary life and even from ordinary pleasure; something, as they would now say, ‘in another dimension.’”

“He has planted eternity in the human heart” (from Ecclesiastes 3:11). And, C.S. Lewis again: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world” (Mere Christianity).

My picture of the forest carnival set my imagination stirring about the parties of Heaven. God loves parties, festivals, and celebrations which is clear from a quick skimming of the Bible. As He also loves variety (clear from a glance a Creation), I believe there will be a variety of parties and festivals in Heaven. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9), which I am so excited about, will be the party to end all parties — and/or — the party to begin all parties. 

There will be a New Earth to explore, besides a City of enormous proportions (about 1400 x 1400 miles (Rev 21:16 and see 1 Cor. 2:9-10)). This means, for party planners and goers, an endless variety of locations! Forests, beaches, mountain tops, riversides, city parks, ancient buildings of the City that will make what we know of Paris and Prague look boring and ordinary in comparison. (Remember, “the architect and builder is God”! Heb. 11:10). I’m guessing the whole universe will be ours to explore, as well, so go ahead and imagine a party among the stars. “Join us tomorrow at 38:31 among the twinkling Pleiades! Dinner and Dancing. Dress: Black Tie and Diamonds.”

I mentioned in my last post that I am hoping to be involved in the design of invitations for the some of these parties. I have been working on a sample invitation for the Forest Carnival party I’ve been thinking about, which I hope to have finished for a future post (The Parties of Heaven (part 3)). 

Heaven

The Parties of Heaven (part 1)

I enjoy thinking about and imagining the parties in Heaven. “Look on Zion, the city of our festivals.” (Is. 33:20). There is one happening today — a birthday party for my sweet sister-in-law, who went to be with the Lord this past August. Today, her daughter posted on Facebook that this is the first birthday in many years that she’ll be celebrating with her parents and grandparents. I wonder how many generations will join in — I can imagine her talking with a great-great-great grandmother, perhaps, and noticing family resemblances. Maybe some of her favorite heroes of the Bible will show up. I was thinking of all of this, and I asked Jesus to please take pictures for us! He might have shown me one right then, because I could clearly picture my sister-in-law, her face glowing with joy,health, and the golden candlelight of the cake in front of her. Her mouth was open with laughter at something someone had just said. I could tell it was one of those belly-laughs that only come when something strikes you particularly funny, and you are among people that make you feel completely comfortable. 

It was wonderful thinking about the reality of where she is now. Of course we should at least occasionally remember how brief our lives are here on earth so that we live each day fully, but I like when that leads to thinking more about the permanent Home we are heading for (if we are at peace with God through Christ). We are Citizens of Heaven, and “foreigners and strangers” here (Heb. 11:13). Have you ever felt the reality of that? Some may think it strange to spend much time thinking about Heaven. But isn’t it stranger to be spending a majority of the time thinking about the place where we’ll be spending the very least amount of our eternal existence? 

The Bible gives us many glimpses of what it will be like there. And the fun part of imagining from those starting points is knowing that it will be even better than the best that we can possibly imagine. Once I am there, I hope to be involved with designing invitations to some of the parties and festivals. More thoughts on that to come. 

Heaven · Uncategorized

The Accent of Home

I used to (kindly, I hope) make fun of my mother when she cried over, it seemed, every little thing.  Now I find myself doing just what she did and still does.  This afternoon I was out getting the mail, and a big truck from the tree farm on which we live pulled in our drive (which leads to the place where big trucks pick up trees to take them places).  The driver stopped to talk to me, and it took me a minute to realize that he is the same man who plows our driveway when we get snowed in.  I don’t know much about him at all, but by his looks, mannerisms and accent, I know he is from this area and most likely grew up on a farm.  Where we live right now, and have lived for the past six years, is the area where I grew up.  But for the time between ages 12 and 36 (excepting visits and four years of college nearby), I lived far from “home.”  Part of that time was spent in a foreign country. So I can’t quite describe how it feels, now, to hear the accent of home.  It is similar to whatever it is that the sense of smell does to you – like when you smell the perfume that your grandmother used to wear.  Instantly, childhood emotions and memories are evoked. You can almost feel your grandmother’s soft shoulder under your cheek as she rocked you on the yellow rocking chair in her green and yellow kitchen.  When I converse with someone who has this accent, I hear my own voice  mirroring it, and I feel an odd acceptance, as if this person (who could be a stranger) must have known me as a child.

This led me to wonder about the language of Heaven. I don’t know what language we will all speak there, or if we will all speak the same language. I’m pretty sure we’ll all be able to understand each other’s languages, if there are different ones (all I know for sure is that there will be people there “from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev. 7:9)).  In any case, I think it will be a language that will allow us to fully communicate our thoughts with much greater depth than we are able to here and now. And it will be beautiful to listen to (like French, but better), and pleasurable to speak.  And I think that when we first hear it (and I thrill to think of the One from whose mouth we will hear it), we will have that sense of “Home,” as we never have before. No matter if our earthly experiences of “home” were positive or negative, when we hear the language and accent of Heaven we will feel an instant sense of belonging and acceptance, knowing that we have always been known and loved.

 

(originally published four years ago)