Friday, October 3, 2008

Why doesn't the Bible tell us more about Heaven?

* Posted by Karen at Facebook

I've been wondering that a lot since Joey died. I've wondered what he's doing, what he's thinking, what he's seeing, what he's feeling. Does he miss us, does he see us, does he get status reports on us like we get on Facebook? Is he praying for us? Does he actually get to speak with Jesus, Abe Lincoln, Will Shakespeare, Johnny Cash? What does he do "all day long"?

Why so little concrete information about Heaven? We hear that it's good, and that it's far beyond anything we know here, but there's not much info actually describing the place--you know, "A Day in the Life" in Heaven.

Then I read this Bible verse this morning. Jesus is talking:
"I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe;
how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? " John 3:12

He's using the argument of the lesser to the greater. If I don't believe the things I can see, how can I believe the things I can't see. It stopped me in my mental tracks. I have to admit that I still don't consistently believe the things He has told me about earthly things: That He will provide, that He will never leave me or forsake me, that He works all things together for good. After all these years of hearing God's promises, I still have trouble with the basics, especially during hard times.

And apparently I am not alone. Not too many Bible characters have been given revelation about Heaven. Less than a handful. St. Paul had a vision of Heaven and mentioned the fact of it, but never wrote the details of what he saw. Too sacred, I think...or beyond description. Or perhaps God commanded that he keep silence.

So even though I don't get the particular answers I am looking for, still I am comforted by Jesus' words. It tells me He understands my curiosity. It tells me that the silence about Heaven is intentional and not an oversight. It tells me that there are things too big for me, and One greater than me is in control.

Just as there are profound things we don't tell children till they are mature enough to handle it, so perhaps the same is true with Heaven. We don't have the spiritual maturity to comprehend much about Heaven. Only that it's there.

Jesus said another comforting thing about Heaven, Jn. 14 1-4 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you that where I am, you may be also."

Basically, He is saying we are just going to have to trust Him on this one. He says He's told us the truth and would tell us if it weren't so. Just trust Him.

So that's what I'll do.


Anonymous said...

A really encouraging posting, Karen. Thank you for the scripture and insight.
Love, Lynne

Anonymous said...

karen, your post is really important for me to read and reread. it helps me find peace in the mystery for another day.

i pray that each day, God provides the manna (and if i could order manna off the manna menu it would be: clarity, answers, security, definition, understanding, foresight, etc. haha. but I know God just orders stuff like peace and reliance and trust and sustenance and hope and love and REST. ok, ok. i guess His manna recipe is better. and He's the chef and I'm not. but i keep trying to cook up something on my own).

And I keep attempting to store the manna for tomorrow or get my tomorrow's manna for today. (I'm going through some really heady mental cycles right now about on tough topics for God, i.e. Joey's death, my grandma's death Sept. 3, my mom's illness, etc.)

but thank you for this profound post. again, i can't tell you how important it is for me to have right now. it feels like my manna for today.


Steve said...

Dear sister...
What an amazing insight you are developing! You have always been, in my mind, a bit more special than most. Your poise, charm, levelheadedness, and quiet supportive spirit have always placed you on a bit of a pedistal with me. You always seem to know what to say, and yet what not to say. None of your words spoken to me have been wasteful or self serving, and anytime I am looking foreward to seeing you and Joe, I feel toward him a sense of fun, adventure, and go, go, go! But when I think of being in your presence, I have always been filled with a sense of awe, respect, and even a bit of nervousness. You carry yourself (yes, even now) with an aire
of sophistication, unconditional kindness, and a loving spirit I have never seen matched. I always find myself wanting to please you, to do well in your eyes, not because I feel threatened or afraid, but because of the warm rewards you effortlessly bestow on anyone you commune with through your true interest and support. I have done a lot of dumb things over the years, often feeling like nothing more than the "little brother" no one listens to or takes seriously. But you have never once shown me anything but the utmost respect and acceptance for who I am. I strongly feel that the Lord is preparing you for something special... and through this hellish baptism of fire, you will be victorious! Somewhere out there, right at this very moment, there is someone whose lives are going just fine, just as yours was before May 22, 2008. But one day, their bottom will fall out, just as yours did. And perhaps these will be people who do not have a strong relationship with God, or the faith and stength of charachter to carry such a burden without the guidence, council, and "been there done that" knowledge that is growing within you each day. Someone out there needs you, Karen, and as of now, they don't even know it. But God does. He knows who they are, what tradgedy will befall them, when it will happen, and who will be there for them. But he will not send you into battle to help others who don't have the love for the Lord as you do until YOUR armor is tightly in place, and you are ready to fight to bring others closer to the Lord through the loss of your precious son. You are gaining more arrows in your quiver every day, as your heart is slowly growing stronger. And although any and all words of support from friends and family are warmly embraced, don't you you feel a bit more understanding and connection from speaking with someone who has already walked this road before you? This is, in my opinion, what God is preparing both you and Joe for. All any of us can do from here on out is listen to what the Lord wants us to hear, and do as he directs. Joey's passing is going to have farther reaching ramifications, and change more lives than any of us know. And I just want you to know, that if destiny chooses me to travel the same path as you one day, and I lose one of my precious children, the thought of you two being there for me is comforting beyond words.
I love you, dear sister in law.
1 Samuel 3: 8-10(TLB)
Then Eli realized it was the Lord who had spoken to The child. So he said to Samuel, "Go and lie down again, and when the Lord calls again, say 'Yes, Lord, I am listening.'" So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, "Samuel! Samuel!"
And Samuel replied, "Yes, I'm listening."

Anonymous said...

Karen,our YAH group are using the devotional book on Heaven by Randy Alcorn.At our age,we are very interested in Heaven and what it will be like.I'm not as curious as some of the ladies,for I am content in konwing God is preparing a place beyond description and like you said,He only revealed what He wants us to know.We can know that Joey is having the "time of his life" with the Lord! Joyce

Mele said...

Dear Karen,

I was thinking about you today in church. Missing seeing you yet understanding why. As I thought about you I tried walking in your shoes but there was so much I couldn't see or didn't want to see. I realized it was too private to personal to go there and I was scared to. But I can walk by those shoes and will continue to.
When church was over I turned around and saw you for the first time. Trying to be sensitive to your conversation with the other lady you were speaking to, I could only give you hug. I wanted to see you tattoo, for Joey. Next time.

Your in my prayers.



Josh Spencer said...

Good stuff, Karen! I read an interesting take on heaven recently by the French philosopher/theologian Jacques Ellul. I wouldn't recommend trying to read anything by him because he's a terrible writer (or the English translations are). But he has some good thoughts, and one of them is that the Bible seems to suggest in Revelation that Heaven isn't the only destination for us. He's going to create a new heaven AND a new earth, and we will dwell in the new city Jerusalem on Earth. He'll redeem man's creation -- the city -- to make it everything man wishes it was but fails to make it, where we will dwell with Him.

Check it out towards the end of Revelation (I'm sure you probably already have).

I like the thought of meeting Joey again in a city, since it was in a city that he left. All the years in between will seem like a blip in the expanse of eternity. That reminds me of another thought I read recently, the concept of anamnesis, or "the loss of amnesia." It's the idea that time doesn't really exist for us anymore than it does for God, but we just have our memories blocked, in a way. We don't remember the past or future; our memory is blocked on both ends by birth and death. It's a crazy idea and there's probably nothing theologically correct about it, but I like it because it makes me speculate about Joey being beyond the curtain and outside time and knowing the whole shebang now that death has removed the "amnesia" he had on earth like the rest of us. Time is all the present to him now.

Maybe I've said too much...I read weird books. Joey always made fun of me for that. :-)