When I was a kid, my sister Nicole and I would cry ourselves to sleep sometimes because we were so afraid of dying and going to heaven. We were scarred by a library book my mom read to us about a little boy who died and turned into an angel. Only, heaven was a place of dark clouds and creepy harps and sadness, because the boy missed his family so much. (My mom ended up calling the library and complaining that this book shouldn't be in the children's section. Yay mom! :P)
Another reason why we were afraid was because of what was taught in Sunday School. "Heaven will be marvellous! Streets of gold up in the clouds, and you'll get to worship the Lord 24/7!" To us, that sounded like a church service that lasted forever. Which ironically seemed more like hell back then. (And to be honest, doesn't sound like a party now either. No offence.)
Truthfully, up until a few years ago my views on heaven were still skewed. I knew I believed in God and the bible, and I loved him and wanted to live a life like Jesus did, but having to spend an eternity up in the clouds listening to angels sing all the time? I didn't want that… and I hoped God would let me bring my earplugs through the Golden Gates with me.
I liked my life on Earth how it was. I loved nature and travelling and photography. I loved summer barbeques, dancing like an idiot with girlfriends, pulling stupid pranks on strict bosses with my sisters, crying in sad movies… I loved God and everything that came with him, but I hated the idea of having to leave my messed up but beautiful life behind to spend infinity in blinding white perfection.
When I was sixteen I went to British Columbia to work at a camp in the mountains called Stillwood. And there, thanks to some amazing experiences and incredible leaders, my outlook on Heaven was fixed for good.
God strives for us to be happy, right? So why would he create a place that is hard for us to be happy in? Look at Earth. Look at it's beauty in nature and friendships and family that God made for us to enjoy. I don't think he would take that all away from us when we join him in Heaven.
Revelations 21 talks about a new heaven and a new Earth, and I believe that that means we'll be living on a flawless version of this planet. No pain, no war, no sadness, no loss… I picture being reunited with my lost family and friends. Living in a beautiful house by the water with my husband and children. Being able to travel wherever we want, whenever we want. Continuing my earthly passion of photography. Having a close and personal relationship to the One who created all of us and loves us more than we will ever know.
Nobody knows exactly what Heaven will be like, but doesn't this sound better than the blindingly bright place that traditionalists taught us about as kids? I firmly believe that a God who wants the best for us wouldn't make us spend an eternity there.