Life forever. When you hear that, you may have an initial check in your spirit like “I can’t imagine anything forever, so I may not like it.” That’s because time is our enemy, and we can’t imagine a life free of all evil, sin, suffering or boredom. Think about when you’re in love, perfectly content to be with that person in that moment, and you don’t want the moment to end…but it does! Now imagine, that moment never has to end. That’s Life forever. Or imagine being engrossed in some project or work of creativity where time stood still because you were so into it…until the clock struck, forcing you to stop creating. Now imagine all the time needed to create. That’s Life forever. The rewards to come in Heaven are worth working for because they’re all we’ve wanted but can’t ever fully get on earth.
Work and Creativity
God is a Creator, an Artist, a Builder and Developer—and He loves to create through us. If you’re a creative person, imagine getting rewarded with an assignment to lead artists in creating and showcasing a special exhibit for the President of the United States. Now imagine greater—the President of All Creation rewarding you with the assignment to create for him! Imagine the joy of being in the zone as you research, explore, discover, or build something commissioned by the Great Builder. That’s what Heaven’s reward will be like.
Dr. George Ritchie had a near-death experience when he died of double pneumonia but was later revived. Jesus showed him a place that was buzzing with excitement like everyone was enthralled with discovery and on the verge of some great new breakthrough: “Somehow I felt that some vast experiment was being pursued, perhaps dozens and dozens of such experiments. ‘What are they doing, Jesus?’ I asked…no explanation lighted my mind. What was communicated, as before, was love: compassion for my ignorance, understanding that encompassed all my non-understanding….We entered a studio where music of a complexity I could not begin to follow was being composed and performed….Next we walked through a library the size of the whole University of Richmond….” They walked out of that building, across a park between the buildings, and into what he described as a building crowded with technological machinery.
Imagine if in Heaven we keep on learning, growing, discovering, creating because all of it ultimately points back to God–back to the glory of His infinite wonders that will take ages of eternity to explore. Jesus told us Heaven will be life—why do we keep imagining something less exciting than earthly life? Work for the Life that truly rewards.
Your Greatest Reward
“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). God is the highlight of Heaven. He is the Greatest Reward of all. No one ever wants to leave His presence. Samma was raised Muslim but came to faith in Jesus right before she “died” when a terrorist’s bomb ripped through her church one Sunday morning. She miraculously revived to tell of being in Jesus’ presence: “When I was in His presence, it was all I wanted, and I wasn’t aware of the rest of my surroundings. People have asked if I saw the New Jerusalem…family members, angels, clouds of witnesses, flowers or golden streets. It was all there, but my eyes were fixed on Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords…His beauty, dazzling and excellent and radiating holiness and splendor, totally captivated me. All of my affection and attention focused on Him. Everything else in heaven was like precious stones, their glory fading in beauty beside the beautiful diamond that reflected light from every angle… He radiated an amazing love that contained deep acceptance. I felt neither condemnation nor shame….As He smiled at me, relief poured over my soul. ‘Welcome home, Samma,’ He said in a voice sweet and gentle, yet also powerful, like the sound of many waters. He opened His arms to me. His beautiful eyes were like blazing fires of consuming love that overwhelmed me. Like a magnet, His love drew me in.”
Another person who saw Heaven and the Lord Jesus said, “I was so consumed by His presence that I dropped to my knees and looked up at Him. He is so glorious, so beautiful. All light inside of Light.” Another said, “I never wanted to leave the presence of this being.” Even a mother with young children she loved more than anything said, “now, this is the part that is hard to get across: when I had this wonderful feeling, there in the presence of that Light, I really didn’t want to come back. But…I knew that I had a duty to my family.”
Imagine the most majestic, beautiful, awe-inspiring Being who alone possesses such power that a word alone speaks into existence a whole universe! Imagine the One from whom all other beauty, joy, and pleasure owe their existence. And now imagine feeling a unique, close intimacy with THAT person—a closeness that rivals that of father and child, a best friend, even a spouse—that’s the greatest reward imaginable. Dean recalls, “Everything about Jesus is love. His love for you is so personal it seems as if it is only for you. You come to realize that He has cared for you forever and will continue to care for you forever. His love is alive. It is more than just a sense. You are becoming His love… it was like I was the only one He loved in all of His creation. I knew He loved others, but it seemed as if I was the only one.”
I’m convinced there’s a closeness, an intimacy, that God has in store for us that all the greatest intimacies on earth merely hinted at—a oneness and an ecstasy that makes sex seem trivial and boring in comparison. Why wouldn’t that be the case when God Himself calls his people His bride? Stop living for rewards that will not endure. Live for the Life and the rewards that no one can ever take from you!
As I’m wrapping up this six part series on Heaven’s Rewards, I’d love to hear feedback. These are excerpts from just one chapter in a book I’m writing called Imagine Heaven, coming out next fall. Your thoughts will help me shape it.