Monday, April 25, 2011

What Does Forever Truly Mean?


This morning in my devotional time I read about eternity and being alive forever in Christ. When I think very deeply about forever, and try to fathom the concept of going on and on and on without kind of hurts my brain.

I asked my mom if the thought had the same effect on her and she just shrugged and said, 'Not really.' I began to wonder if maybe God has given me a gift in being able to deeply understand His truths. Once in high school I thought about what it must have been like before anything came into being; before the world when there was just God and perhaps nothing but darkness outside of God's light. It's hard to imagine a time when there were no stars, no sun, no planets, no people. It's one thing to just scratch the surface of that thought, but let yourself really get lost in that idea. It should be truly mind-blowing. At least it is for me. And that's exactly my point! Am I the only one who gets how big these subjects are? Forever! The human mind doesn't know the true meaning of that word. Nothing we have now lasts forever. Spring ends; years end; lives end--everything ends. What's it like to go on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever?

I think typically when we imagine heaven, we imagine an end to the heaven that exists now, and the beginning of our time on the new earth. It's comfortable for us to think of things as having an ending, so when I think about forever--and I mean really think about it--I literally have to stop at some point because it gets overwhelming.

Recently I've been listening to this song called Kiss of Heaven and it goes like this:

I'm walking a new walk, never be the same again
Dancing a new dance in Your Holy Spirit rain
Your breath of life has overwhelmed me and set my spirit free

I'm living a new life underneath Your morning star
Running a new race in the shadow of Your love
Your love is immeasurable too deep to comprehend

My Jesus, dream maker. My Jesus, life giver
I'm living under the kiss of heaven and I'll never ever be the same again

I'm singing a new song in the presence of my King
Giving You my heart, that is all that I can bring
You lit a fire inside of me that I thought would never burn again

The reason this song has special meaning for me is because I remember a summer night when I was twelve and I looked up at the stars and knew I wanted something more than this, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I'd always had a great imagination, and that fire is finally burning in me again for eternity, much more so than it ever has. I feel that God is opening windows and letting me in on things that I never understood before. I have been blessed with a very curious mind and I tend to be able to think outside the box. The other day I said, "what is taste?" Most people don't ask such questions, but I do. Is that strange? I just hunger for knowledge of everything all the time. I want to know...I just want to know whatever there is that's worth knowing. So I ask weird questions. ;-) Maybe the Spirit inside me is showing me how big eternity is and that's why I feel overwhelmed by the thought. Bottom line: I feel different.  

Making The Transition

2:27pm 4/21/11

Some thoughts I had this morning about memories in heaven:

A friend once said we probably won't care about our lives on earth once we're in heaven, but that makes it seem like our time here holds no weight. God could take us all right now if that were the case. Our memories are part of who we are and can't be separate from us. Yes, God's Presence will be a truly joyful experience, but God didn't create beings that couldn't think of anything else but Him while He was around. Maybe we're like that now, but we won't be in heaven. How are we to do our 'holier work above' if we're gaping at His feet?

What about people in heaven that lived thousands of years ago? We'll want to ask them what it was like, and I doubt they're not going to care to share it with someone from the future. Humans love learning, and I believe God designed us to want to discover things ourselves, not have it handed to us on a silver platter.

If memories are the records of our experience on earth, we're essentially living history books. Since the earth will be destroyed, we are all that is left of the past, and I do believe that past is valuable, even if it is really no longer needed to advance civilization. It's something like flowers--they're not really good for anything practical, just to be something beautiful. In the same way, asking Grandma what her life was like is really fun, and might help us discover something about ourselves, therefore I don't see any reason for it to go to waste.

At one time I considered that maybe people in heaven couldn't remember earth, but that theory quickly became a ridiculous one, and probably not biblical. Pain won't be a problem with God around. He won't need to erase our memories to make that happen. There are things in our lives that we can look back on that were painful at the time, but aren't painful anymore because we are different people now. That could be true for heaven as well. It doesn't seem likely that God would erase our memories, and if they're still there, why not talk about them, explore them, and even ask God about them?

On the topic of being changed, I've been thinking that maybe our bodies hold our souls back. C.S. Lewis theorized that Adam and Eve probably had total control over their bodies and could obey as long as they were willing (none of our current inability to do right). At some point they decided not to obey, and something happened that made them unable to always do right in the future. They literally became a different creation. Once you know right from wrong, there's no going back, just like anything else you suddenly know. God's Word says we become new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). I wonder if our brain holds us back in a sense because we will understand so much more once we are without it.

However, there is one issue I'm working out. The Bible says “...For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes. See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit." -Isaiah 65:17

This is the Lord speaking, but I'm not sure if this is talking about past things not coming to our minds or to His. It could be the past things will be a part of our memories, but we won't need to hold onto them like we do on earth. The fun things can be shared and laughed about, and the things that happened that caused us pain don't need to be brought up. That's how I plan to portray it, anyway. It's important to understand that reminiscing on earth can be bittersweet and sometimes painful, but without pain, we can freely share our experiences and remember the past world and the beautiful things that once were. Logically, it wouldn't be fun at all without memories.