First and foremost, I look forward to being with Jesus, my Lord and Savior and best friend. To be in His presence, to listen to Him and walk with Him…nothing could be better than that. To look into Jesus’ eyes will be to see what we’ve always longed to see: the person who made us and for whom we were made. And we’ll see Him in the place He made for us and for which we were made. Seeing God will be like seeing everything else for the first time. WOW!
Secondly, I look forward to meeting other people. I’d like to ask Mary to tell stories about Jesus as a child. I’d enjoy talking with Simeon, Anna, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist. I want to hear Noah’s accounts, and his wife’s, of life on the ark. I’m eager to listen to Moses tell about his times with God on the mountain. I’d like to ask Elijah about being taken away in the chariot and Enoch (and Enoch’s wife) about his being caught up by God.
I want to talk with Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. I’ll ask people to fill in the blanks of the great stories in Scripture and church history. I want to hear a few million new stories. One at a time, of course, and spread out over thousands of years. I imagine we’ll relish these great stories, ask questions, laugh together, and shake our heads in amazement.
We’ll each have our own stories to tell also—and the memories and skills to tell them well. Right now, today, we are living the lives from which such stories will be drawn. Are we living them with eternity in mind? We’ll have new adventures on the New Earth from which new stories will emerge, but I suspect the old stories from this life will always interest us too.
I can’t wait to reconnect with many old friends including Greg Coffey and Jerry Hardin, as well as my mom and dad. I look forward to thanking C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and A. W. Tozer for how their writings changed me. I anticipate meeting William Carey, Hudson and Maria Taylor, Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Charles Spurgeon, Dwight L. Moody, Harriet Beecher Stowe, some of the Amistad slaves, and a host of others.
Seeing my friends who suffered physically on earth enjoy living in their new bodies will be a special joy. My old friend David O’Brien, who was always with me at Ecola Hall and Cannon Beach Conference Center the dozens of weeks I spent there, was a brilliant man trapped in a body that groaned for redemption. His cerebral palsy was gone the moment he left this world for the present Heaven, but the biggest treat will be at his resurrection, when he will have a new body, forever free of disease. I picture David never having to repeat himself because others don’t understand him. I see him running through fields on the New Earth. I look forward to running beside David . . . and probably behind him, because I doubt I could ever catch up with such a godly brother.
Many of us look forward to Heaven more now than we did when our bodies functioned well. Our dear friend Joni Eareckson Tada says it so well: “Somewhere in my broken, paralyzed body is the seed of what I shall become. The paralysis makes what I am to become all the more grand when you contrast atrophied, useless legs against splendorous resurrected legs. I’m convinced that if there are mirrors in heaven (and why not?), the image I’ll see will be unmistakably ‘Joni,’ although a much better, brighter Joni.”
Finally, my wife, Nanci, is my best friend and my closest sister in Christ. I fully expect no one besides God Himself will understand me better on the New Earth, and there’s nobody whose company I’ll seek and enjoy more than Nanci’s.
My heart explodes with happiness as I anticipate the world to come and its endless delights of closeness with Jesus, first and foremost, and the people of God and angels and creatures we have known and will one day know in a vast and beautiful new universe!