I’ve never been to Heaven, yet I miss it. Eden’s in my blood. The best things of life are souvenirs from Eden, appetizers of the New Earth. There are just enough of them to keep us going but never enough to make us satisfied with the world as it is or ourselves as we are. We live between Eden and the New Earth, pulled toward what we once were and what we yet will be.
Desire is a signpost pointing to Heaven. Every longing for better health is a longing for the perfect bodies we’ll have on the New Earth. Every longing for romance is a longing for the ultimate romance with Christ. Every thirst for beauty is a thirst for Christ. Every taste of joy is but a foretaste of a greater and more vibrant joy than can be found on Earth now.
That’s why we need to spend our lives cultivating our love for Heaven. That’s why we need to meditate on what Scripture says about Heaven and to read books, have Bible studies, teach classes, and preach sermons on it. We need to talk to our children about Heaven. When we’re camping, hiking, or driving or when we’re at a museum, a sporting event, or a theme park, we need to talk about what we see around us as signposts of the New Earth.
When we think of Heaven as unearthly, our present lives seem unspiritual, as if they don’t matter. When we grasp the reality of the New Earth, however, our present, earthly lives suddenly do matter. Conversations with loved ones matter. The taste of food matters. Work, leisure, creativity, and intellectual stimulation matter. Rivers and trees and flowers matter. Laughter matters. Service matters. Why? Because they are eternal.
Life on Earth matters, not because it’s the only life we have, but precisely because it isn’t—it’s the beginning of a life that will continue without end on a renewed Earth. Understanding Heaven doesn’t just tell us what to do, but why. What God tells us about our future enables us to interpret our past and serve him in our present.