The Day I Stopped Believing in Heaven

There was a bridge that rattled when you ran on it. I liked the sound. It made you feel like it was a hanging bridge between two cliffs on some island in the pacific. The chains would clang out like a resounding gong, and the wood squeaked with every step. I loved to run across that bridge. The sound made me feel like I was fleeing from some terrible tribe of cannibals or a group of marauding pirates. Every morning, I sat in class, thinking about that bridge. After what always seemed an eternity, recess would come and I would sprint towards that bridge.

I would run across, listening to that sound pierce the air, imagining all the different adventures I could be a part of, if only I was on a faraway island, and not an elementary school playground.

“Can you imagine heaven?”

I heard that question asked earlier today, as I passed through the lobby of a bible college. My mind was on the meeting I had just finished so I didn’t really think about what I had just heard. It wasn’t until I had reached my destination and sat down that I began to think about that question.

“Can you imagine heaven?”

What an interesting question that is, what an interesting idea heaven is. Humans have always liked the idea of some sort of existence after death; it’s a comforting thought. Death is a problem that all societies and cultures have tried to answer. From the romans, and our great modern cities, all the way to the most primitive of jungle cultures have all had their own ideas of what happens when we breathe our last. What poetic beauty that the unifying factor for all of life is that it comes to an end. The rich and the poor, the righteous and the sinner, the wise man and the fool. They all have in common just one thing: death.

Therefore, it seems that what happens after this great shared event of death is of some importance.

So ask yourself, “Can you imagine heaven?”

It seems that we like to view heaven as a bizarre mix between a celestial globe of light and a crowded airport terminal. We see families being reunited as the recently deceased exit from the cleanest of subway cars. Of course our beloved childhood pets happily rush up to greet us, and our old coaches and teachers tell us how proud they are to see that we have gained entrance to the most exclusive club. As bright line shines in through the stained glass you can hear the chorus singing “How Great Is Our God” ringing out, loud and clear.

If we are honest, that’s at least a little bit like the way we view heaven. Just as we picture Jesus as a white guy with brown hair and blue eyes, we know it’s wrong, but we like it. So why not believe it?

“However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ this is what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

So ask yourself again,

“Can you imagine heaven?”

No you can’t.

But more importantly, you shouldn’t even try.

What happens after you die, is the least of your concerns.

What happens once you start living is a question worth asking.

When Jesus talked about heaven, which was rare, he talked about how to live, not about going somewhere after you die. Heaven is meant to give this life value, it is meant to give this life the most beautiful of opportunities. What an opportunity it is to experience heaven, an opportunity that should not be wasted. It’s time we stop thinking you have to be dead and gone to experience the heaven Jesus talked about. After all, today is much better than tomorrow.

As I sat and pondered that innocent sounding question,

“Can you imagine heaven?”

I was taken back to second grade. Sitting in that classroom, wishing that time would just move faster.

I can still remember begging and pleading with time, “Please clock, move quicker.”

The problem with recess is that it was only 30 minutes. I would spend the other 7 hours of the day wishing for those brief few moments of freedom, to run on that bridge. I can’t imagine how much time I wasted wishing that those very moments had never even existed. How awful it is to wish away a single moment from life.

How many hours, how many days, how many months, or even years, will you spend sitting in the classrooms of life, looking up at the clock, begging and wishing that it would go a little quicker?

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place I’m going.” John 14:3-4

Too often we view heaven as a faraway place, or some distant promise. But don’t be deceived, there’s a better way, Jesus made that clear. His life, His teachings, and His death all point to a path to experiencing heaven, that path is love.

As I sat and remembered that playground bridge I mused on what I had heard asked, “Can you imagine heaven?”

And I think that I have an answer.

No I can’t, but I know the way.


8 thoughts on “The Day I Stopped Believing in Heaven

  1. I once heard a pastor say, “We shouldn’t worry about when Christ is returning and instead worry about what we’re doing to change the number of people left on earth once he does.” Game changer. Well written article. Really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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