Can Our Loved Ones in Heaven See All of Our Lives? Will Our Actions Disappoint Them?

Question from a Reader:

Our Bible study is working through your book Heaven. One dear friend recently lost her father. He left her a substantial inheritance, and she is worried that she is not stewarding it as well as he would like, and that he may be watching in the intermediate Heaven, disappointed in her. I counseled her about how his perspective is now quite different and that it would be his joy to see her enjoying what he worked so hard to provide for her. I would like your perspective and counsel on this issue also. I agree the saints gone before us must be aware of happenings on Earth, but I am uncertain how much awareness they may have. Are they watching our every move as though to have sorrow for each foolish decision? Or do you believe their awareness is more generic, based upon the larger events in our lives?

Answer from Stephanie Anderson, EPM Staff:

Thank you for pointing the eyes of your church members towards Heaven!

Randy has written related to this subject: “Hebrews 12:1 tells us to ‘run the race marked out for us,’ creating the mental picture of the Greek competitions which were watched intently by throngs of engrossed fans, sitting high up in ancient stadia. The ‘great cloud of witnesses’ he speaks of are clearly the saints who’ve gone before us, whose accomplishments on the playing field are now past. The imagery seems to suggest those saints, the spiritual ‘athletes’ of old, are now watching us and cheering us on from the stands of Heaven. (The witnesses are said to ‘surround’ us, not merely to have preceded us.)”

Ray Ortlund writes, “‘We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’ (Hebrews 12:1). So many have run this race ahead of us. They ran well by looking to the Lord and taking the next step of faith, whatever it was. Now they surround us. They aren’t far away but *very near* — and very inspiring.”

While Randy believes that it is quite possible that God allows believers in Heaven to see us at least sometimes, and for sure they have a front-row seat to what God is doing on Earth, it is helpful to 1) remember their glorified perspective, as you mentioned to her, and to know they are likely praying for us; and 2) remember that Scripture’s focus is on how God sees our lives, and ultimately, we want to please Him. 

The thought of our loved ones who have gone before us being able to see our lives, perhaps at key moments, is meant to bring comfort and perspective, not grief or anxiety. Randy writes:

I was not saying in the book, nor do I believe it to be true, that people now in Heaven see everything that is going on down on Earth. It’s that they see some things that God in His wisdom desires them to see. And of course, we don’t know which things, though we might guess.

Yes, they have the perspective that would keep them from being robbed of Heaven’s joy, but I get the feeling she is worried that her father is seeing anything and everything she does, which is not at all what I believe, nor what I intended the book to say. I think they see enough to keep in touch with our lives, but certainly not everything, as their main focus is where they are with Jesus.

Still, their connection with what’s going on here is significant because this is where God’s plan is being worked out. But she needn’t be unnerved or preoccupied by the idea of being spied on or eavesdropped on by her dad.

That said, perhaps there is something deeper related to the inheritance that would be worth her praying and thinking about, to see if the Lord might be providing some conviction about how she could use the funds to invest in eternity.  

I’ve found this article from Ray Ortlund helpful about the convicting work of the Holy Spirit vs. the accusations of our enemy.

While this article is geared towards younger people who are looking at eventually receiving an inheritance, some of what Randy shares may be applicable. Also see these questions about giving.

Instead of asking, “Is my dad displeased with me?” She could ask, “How might he want me to invest some of these funds into God’s Kingdom, if he were able to counsel me now from Heaven’s perspective? What would bring him joy, me joy, and most importantly, God great joy and glory?”

If she’d like to explore this further, Randy’s books The Treasure Principle and/or Giving Is the Good Life might be helpful.

God bless you and your church!

Photo: Unsplash

Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.