My children have walked through extraordinary circumstances. They’ve had the opportunity to see God’s hand working in our lives. They’ve seen miracles and they’ve seen destruction. And while it may not all make sense to them, they do know that HE’s REAL.
Today, while in discussion with my son as we drove home from the post office, he made a shocking confession to me. “I don’t know what to believe about heaven and hell,” he told me. “And, why do I want to go there – to a place where I’ll sit on a cloud and play a harp? It sounds like going to Grandma’s house – a place where I have to be in perfect behavior all the time and don’t get to have any fun.”
Sadly, I can relate to his question in ways I may not have even realized. I too spent most of my life visualizing Heaven as a boring place, where only the best behaved people belong. If I make it there, will I even like it there? Subconsciously, the questions I never asked were secretly shameful. I’m supposed to want to go there, and try to be sinful and perfect in order to get in. But once in, my days of exploration and excitement are over.
Are we programmed to believe a lie?
I believe the answer is yes. Searching my memory as far back as it will go, the idea of heaven was given to me perhaps first, by cartoons. I remember watching the death of a character result in floating into the sky, then the character would be pictured in a white robe, sitting on a cloud strumming at a harp. Is this what Heaven will be like? Not a chance.
I’ve learned in my walk with Jesus and in searching God’s word for truth, that every good gift comes down from God. That means the rush of adrenaline that I adored in riding roller coasters as a kid was God’s gift to me. That means that the thrill of young love, when I first met Josh was a gift from God. The excitement of accomplishing a goal, was from him. My love for sports cars, good food and even the thrill of danger is all part of the “wonderfully and fearfully made” description of the being he’s created me to be.
In understanding that God made everything – this Earth and all of creation beyond what we can see in our temporary home – throughout the universe and dominions that we can’t even yet fathom with our simple, and limited carnal minds, how did we come up with the idea that God’s idea of “paradise” is a lame picture of a cartoon character sitting on a cloud strumming a harp? Well I can guess where this myth came from, but why do we believe such a silly thing?
My kid loves sports. He loves winning. He loves challenge and he loves praise. Like most kids, I guess, he loves the thrill of what’s next – yet he worries deep inside of his secret thoughts that his ultimate destination (Heaven), will somehow be a place of loss – a place where all of the things he loves, will be missing.
I don’t have the answers on what I can’t yet see, but I believe that “paradise” is full of all the things we love here and so much more! I believe the good things of this life are only a little taste of the senses we will one day explore in our eternal bodies that we will one day receive. Oh and when we’re on Earth reigning with Jesus for 1,000 years, I can only imagine what that life will look like when the removal of suffering, pain, oppression, death, sickness, and everything else that weighs our hearts down in despair is removed completely.
Maybe instead of regurgitating scripture and talking to my kids about being “good or bad”, (don’t get me started on those myths), I can learn to explore God with my children in new ways and lead them in new truths – tearing down the lies and myths that the prince of the world has programmed into our thoughts, hindering our ability to seek the kingdom with excitement, joy and anticipation of the promises the Lord will one day reveal. Paradise….. oh, it’s gonna be so much greater than we can even imagine.
I’m sharing this little bit of my day from one parent to the next. Ask your kids the “big picture” questions. You might be amazed with the opportunities that surface – allowing you both to explore God in new ways, tearing down all of the lies that a broken world programs into our thoughts.