At 2:30 a.m., on November 19, 2002, I stood on our deck gazing up at the night sky. Above me was the Leonid meteor shower, the finest display of celestial fireworks until the year 2096. For someone who has enjoyed meteor showers since he was a kid, this was the celestial event of a lifetime.
There was only one problem: clouds covered the Oregon sky. Of the hundreds of streaking meteors above me, I couldn’t see a single one. I felt like a blind man being told, “You’re missing the most beautiful sunset of your lifetime. You’ll never be able to see another like it.”
Was I disappointed? Sure. After searching in vain for small cracks in the cloud cover, I went inside and wrote these paragraphs. I’m disappointed, but not disillusioned. Why? Because I did not miss the celestial event of my lifetime.
My lifetime is forever. My residence will be a new universe, with far more spectacular celestial wonders, and I’ll have the ability to look through the clouds or rise above them.
During a spectacular meteor shower a few years earlier, I had stood on our deck watching a clear sky. Part of the fun was hearing oohs and aahs in the distance, from neighbors looking upward. Multiply these oohs and aahs by ten thousand times ten thousand, and it’ll suggest our thunderous response to what our Father will do in the new heavens as we look upward from the New Earth.
Imagine sitting around campfires on the New Earth, wide-eyed at the adventures recounted. Yes, I mean telling real stories around real campfires. Why not? After all, friendship, camaraderie, laughter, stories, and cozy campfires are all good gifts from God.
On the New Earth we may experience adventures that make our current mountain climbs, surfing, skydiving, and upside-down roller coaster rides seem tame. Why do I say this? It’s more than wishful thinking. It’s an argument from design. We take pleasure in exhilarating experiences not because of sin but because God wired us this way. We weren’t made to sit all day in dark rooms, watching actors pretend to live and athletes do what we can’t.
In Heaven, we will be able to do as we wish and go where we wish, never wondering if our wishes are wrong!
Want to see the crossing of the Red Sea? Want to be there when Daniel’s three friends emerge from the fiery furnace? It would be simple for God to open the door to the past. Because God is not limited by time, He may choose to show us past events as if they were presently happening. We may be able to study history from a front-row seat.
Think of friends or family members who loved Jesus and are with Him now. Picture them with you, walking together in this place. All of you have powerful bodies, stronger than those of an Olympic decathlete. You are laughing, playing, talking, and reminiscing. Now you see someone coming toward you. It’s Jesus, with a big smile on his face. You fall to your knees in worship. He pulls you up and embraces you.
At last, you’re with the person you were made for, in the place you were made for. Everywhere you go, there will be new people to meet, including Charles Spurgeon and his friends Charles Stanford and Hugh Stowell Brown. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (11:13-16, NLT).
There will be new places to enjoy, new things to discover. What’s that delicious aroma? A feast? A party’s ahead. And you’re invited.
Here are some further thoughts about our coming adventures on the New Earth:
Browse more resources on the topic of Heaven, and see Randy’s related books, including Heaven.
In the glimpses afforded of [Jesus’] life beyond resurrection we find . . . freedoms even further enhanced. At the physical level he can appear, disappear and then reappear at will (cf. John 20:19, 26; Luke 24:15, 31, 36, 51); at the moral and spiritual level there is a freedom from the awful burden of responsibility for the completion of his mission; at the relational level there is a new freedom to indwell and personally identify with all who belong to him. Such is the promise of the heavenly life—an existence of boundless freedoms.
Bruce Milne, The Message of Heaven and Hell
We are partly “Heaven-blind” because the worldview our culture has adopted has made it hard to see supernatural colors.
Daniel Brown, What the Bible Reveals about Heaven
Their souls being on fire with holy love, shall not be like a fire pent up, but like a flame uncovered and at liberty. Their spirits, being winged with love, shall have no weight upon them to hinder their flight. There shall be no lack of strength or activity, nor any lack of words with which to praise the Object of their affection. Nothing shall hinder them from communing with God, and praising and serving Him just as their love inclines them to do.
Jonathan Edwards, Heaven: A World of Love
If it brings glory to God and increases our knowledge of Him, you will indeed be able to engage in some form of time travel.
Larry Dick, A Taste of Heaven
We want to serve God more, but we have to sleep. We want to pray and study the Bible, but we grow weary. In Heaven, bodies will do whatever we want them to do. We will possess boundless energy with which to serve God.
Steven J. Lawson, Heaven Help Us!
Actually, we will do many of the same things in Heaven that we did here on the earth—just perfectly.
Steven J. Lawson, Heaven Help Us!
This voice of joy [in Heaven] is not like our old complaints, our impatient groans and sighs; nor this melodious praise like the scoffs and revilings, or the oaths and curses which we heard on earth. This body is not like that we had, nor this soul like the soul we had, nor this life like the life we lived. We have changed our place and state, our clothes and thoughts, our looks, language and company.
Before, a saint was weak and despised; so proud and peevish we could often scarce discern his graces; but now, how glorious is a saint! …Happy union! Now the Gospel shall no more be dishonored through our folly.
Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest
I haven’t been cheated out of being a complete person—I’m just going through a forty-year delay, and God is with me even through that. Being “glorified”—I know the meaning of that now. It’s the time, after my death here, when I’ll be on my feet dancing.
Joni Eareckson Tada
If Jesus’ resurrected body is a clue, along with accounts of angels appearing to a host of other biblical worthies, I surmise that we will transport ourselves not only across but also through space—and with what by earth standards would seem incredible speed. Anyone who has envied a hawk’s ability to soar or a whale’s to dive can get enthusiastic about heavenly release from present limitations of mobility.
Arthur Roberts, Exploring Heaven
These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world-shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else—since He has retained His own charger— should we accompany Him?
C. S. Lewis, Miracles
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
Throughout eternity we will live full, truly human lives, exploring and managing God’s creation to his glory. Fascinating vistas will unfold before us as we learn to serve God in a renewed universe.
Edward Donnelly, Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell
There will be new planets to develop, new principles to discover, new joys to experience. Every moment of eternity will be an adventure of discovery.
Ray C. Stedman, “The City of Glory”