I’ve read Heaven and loved it! However, I still struggle with getting excited about Christ’s return. I know Heaven will not be disappointing in any way, but the idea of not being able to live a full life and watch my children grow up is hard for me.
I relate to your concerns because I too, want to watch my children grow up. I believe that ultimately, it is a matter of trust. Do we trust Jesus to return at exactly the right time? Do we trust that He has our children’s lives in His hands, and that He knows and has numbered their exact days, and ours too? “…in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). His plans for our future and theirs are infinitely better than anything we can come up with. He is wise, and we can rest in His wisdom. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).
Randy writes in his book If God Is Good: “When Jesus finally came as the Lamb of God, He came not a moment too soon. And when He returns as the Lion, again it will be not a moment too soon—or too late.”
Throughout Christian history, the return of Jesus and the hope of eternity have been a bright light for believers, keeping them going when times are hard. I think part of the reason that we don’t long more for it is because we’ve had life so good here in modern America. We’ve not experienced war on our doorsteps or what it is to be starving, in constant danger, afraid for our lives, watching our children die of hunger and violence and disease.
In Luke 21, Jesus talks about the end times and wars and pestilence and suffering. He says, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (v. 28). I love that picture of lifting up our heads in hope, knowing that Jesus, our Redeemer, is coming.
When we are in Christ's presence, whether at His return or our deaths, we will experience fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). That really will be living life to the full. Randy writes about life on the New Earth, “Eternal life will be enjoying forever what life on Earth is at its finest moments, what it was intended to be. Since in Heaven we’ll finally experience life at its best, it would be more accurate to call our present existence the beforelife rather than what follows the afterlife.”
We can pray and ask God to fill us with a longing for Heaven and our eternal future. And we can also pray with the Psalmist: “My times are in your hand” (Psalm 31:15). That’s a good place to be—in our Father’s hands, trusting Him for our future and our children’s future.
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.