Thank Heavens for Choices
I remember watching an episode of Quantum Leap where the main character, quantum physicist Dr. Sam Beckett somehow ‘leaped’ into the afterlife (the place ‘up’ there, not the other one), this time as himself. Sam normally leaps into or takes over another person’s body, and tries to change history for the better. That’s the premise of the show.
Anyway, in this episode body leaping didn’t matter. Sam found himself walking along the shores of a tranquil lake, the sun was low in the sky and the scene was out-of-this-world idyllic. He came across a young boy whooping for joy as he lands a trout. Sam began talking to the boy. The more he talked, the more he realized there was something familiar about him. He remembered him from an old family photo. Suddenly Sam realized he was talking to his Uncle Jake, who died more than 30 years ago. Confused and taken aback, Sam cried, “Uncle Jake, what are you doing here? What’s happening?” Uncle Jake explained he is now in Heaven, his heaven. When he was 10, he loved going down to the lake, dangling his feet over the side of the jetty and casting his rod. He loved watching the deepening golden sky the sunset makes and the shimmering golden specks as they danced on gentle waves. Now Jake is re-living the happiest moments of his life forever. Now, that’s as close to anyone’s idea of heaven as you can get.
I forgot how the episode ended, who exactly Sam was supposed to ‘leap’ into or why Sam found himself in Uncle Jake’s heaven. But that proposition of heaven has always struck me as totally appealing as it is plausible.
Now what if that’s what heaven is all about? Your reward. You choose. God accommodates with love. “In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare the place for you?” (John 14: 2) What if your ‘room’ means your own personalized heaven ….
No one knows what’s on the ‘other side’. Even Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead gave no recording of what he saw. There was no documentation of his experience in the Bible. But the good book did tell us that “But it is written : what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him “ (1 Corinthians 2 : 9) This leaves us free to interpret what to expect, locking in our expectations on the greatest truth there is : God Loves Us.
Guided by this all-truth, allow me to tease the Christian mind into exploring the meaning of Heaven beyond the rigid confines of a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. Starting with Christ’s supreme pronouncement in John 11 : 25-26 ” He who believes in me shall live even though he dies and whoever lives and believe in me will never die.”Then Corinthians 15 throws us another clue : “Death is swallowed up in victory”. The key word here is ‘victory’. The foe here is non-existence or existence without the love of God. God loves and knows each and every one of us. If you had always wanted to live over and over again the happiest times of your life for all-time, how far-fetched is it to expect God to reward you thus, to re-create them in Heaven, custom-made just for you? Did He not say “I,the Lord, search the heart and the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17 : 10). (On that subject I don’t think drinking, gambling, fornicating and similar activities will be on his list)
Unless we are robbed of our God-given personalities and enter heaven as mindless zombies, I don’t think listening to 6-winged, multi-eyed creatures of the Revelations, chanting “Holy, holy, holy” for eternity is much anyone’s idea of paradise. For that matter, I don’t think endlessly breaking bread nor drinking wine in God’s house is either. Nor will walking around in white robes or lying on puffy white clouds trying your darnest to play the harp.
So what’s your idea of heaven? If we make it past the goalpost, God may well be there waiting at the winner’s podium, notepad in hand, waiting for you to tell Him just that. So that He may fulfill it. Rather than a wishful genie in a magic lamp, you get the spotlight of God’s wise love.Those who want to sit with God and learn the unending mysteries of the universe will get to do so. Those who want to go back to the best times of their earthly lives will get to do that too.An alternate reality, courtesy of the Almighty.
For many people childhood memories stand out unequivocally as fondest ones. Those care-free days when hurts are forgotten with a hug and a kiss, when every delight is complete, joy simple, and laughter open. Jesus himself offered us a glimpse into the spiritual population of heaven when he told his otherwise well-meaning disciples “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14)
I don’t mind being five again, frolicking on the beach and jumping with glee into the warm tropical sea. I’d rather build sand castles than live in a golden city…
Kimmy Fam, Sydney, NSW
The writer, a member of the Uniting Church in Australia, holds degrees in law and the science of economics from the University of London, and is considering taking up a BD (Bachelor of Divinity) course from UOL.
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