Heaven. It’s something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Last month while I was away visiting family, I was able to visit an old friend of mine who is dying of cancer. It was such a gift to be able to sit with her. We shared laughter, and tears. It was lovely to be able to be with her one last time. She spoke openly about dying, about her fears of what her family would be like after she was gone. And we spoke of heaven, and what we imagined it would be like.
Heaven. It’s a mystery to us, isn’t it? I’ll admit, when I think of the word heaven, the old song by Fred Astaire runs through my mind. “Heaven, I’m in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak, and I seem to find the happiness I seek when we’re out together dancing, cheek to cheek.” It’s a sweet old song, but not really an accurate picture of what heaven is like. The thing is, we don’t really have an accurate picture, because we only know glimpses of what heaven will be like.
We know from Scripture heaven is where God is, and where believers go when they die. If we read Revelation 21, it gives us a bit more of a brief description of what it will look like with golden streets, jasper walls and decorated with many precious stones and jewels. And we know that it will be a place free of anguish because “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:4) It’s this part that gives me pause.
No more pain. I can’t imagine what that would be like. Not just for myself, because pain has become a normal part of life for me. But for all those who live with chronic pain, who’ve endured serious illnesses, who are suffering with cancer. To imagine life without pain is a luxury. But then, if you have been saved, it is a reality.
Not long ago, I wrote about my thoughts on the spoon theory. As it goes, for those who live with chronic illness or other conditions, they have a figurative set of spoons measuring their activity level. Each day they have a set number of spoons, and each activity requires a certain number of spoons. Some days getting dressed requires several spoons, others it doesn’t. Going to the mall, spending time with friends, and going to work require the greatest number. At any point in the day, one could run out of spoons, and there isn’t any energy left for anything else.
But when I think about spoons, I think about forks. When I was a young girl, visiting my grandparents was a treat. They lived several hours away from us, so when we visited we were often treated to a full on feast. Delicious German mennonite food was passed around the table multiple times until we could eat no more. And just when we thought we were finished, my Gramma would say, “save your forks – the best is yet to come.” She would then present us with dessert, usually several different kinds. We would pick up our forks and dig right in.
Recently when my family visited my parents house, my son noticed a plastic purple fork enclosed in my mother’s cabinet where she keeps her special dishes. When asked about it, she told us it was given to her by a friend who had spoken at a ladies retreat. Her friend had taught about heaven, and had used the forks as a tangible reminder that “the best is yet to come.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the spoon theory. It’s easy to focus on how tired we become, our how little energy we have. It’s easy to lose ourselves in the negative. But we have a hope heaven. When Jesus is our Saviour, we know the best is yet to come. We may not know what heaven is like exactly, but pain free days spent with a loving God sounds pretty amazing. I don’t know about you, but I’m happily trading my spoons for a fork.