Do you ever imagine the next life? Some days it’s the only thing that keeps me going.
To be a little tongue-in-cheek, I have an “understanding” with God. Now, I know it is a silly thing to suppose I can make any demands of God or hold him to anything (and that’s not the point of what I’m saying, anyway).
But if there’s anyone who can make requests of the King with lighthearted, easy confidence, it’s the King’s beloved son.
Our understanding is this: God and I are going to have some time alone together at the beginning of the next life. The Bible tells us that in the next life we who are redeemed will all dwell together in perfect community, and I am looking forward to that.
But first, I think I need some time alone with him. For the wounds to heal, for the scars to fade, and for the tears to become mere memory. I don’t know if it will take one year or a million years.
I used to think healing would happen in an instant, but I’m not sure that’s how healing works anymore.
Part of the healing process is taking time to rest and process, and it’s unlike God to circumvent his own mechanisms.
One time I had a dream about a beautiful, sprawling house built into the side of a canyon. Balconies and catwalks gave breathtaking views of the vast expanse cut into red rock with a river rushing through the bottom.
For some reason this is where I imagine spending this healing time with the One who delights in me.
I imagine our spending the days together gardening, cooking, swimming, climbing, running. We sit by the fire, snuggled under a blanket, and we read aloud to each other from whatever Tolkien has been writing since he passed on.
There is a pool and we lie beside it and eat our favorite foods in the arid breeze. We dance together to Miles Davis. God teaches me pottery. At long last I get around to learning how to sing, play piano, and draw. When we both start to miss the ocean, we take a trip to the beach.
I can finally drink deeply of intimacy without this world and the old flesh to get in the way.
A friend once objected to the concept of heaven, saying it sounded awfully monotonous. Who would want to do the same thing — worship God — for all eternity? I don’t remember how I responded at the time, but I know what I would say now.
You don’t get bored in the arms of your lover, I suspect; you get lost.
This is where he teaches me how to love, fully and truly. He teaches me how to love selflessly and without need. He teaches me, however long it takes, how to join my brothers and sisters in that perfect unity.
Then I’ll join the wedding feast when I’m good and ready.
I have wondered if it is healthy for me to try to imagine the next life in such detail. Growing up in evangelical culture has given me a deep suspicion of anything not stated outright in Scripture. I’m probably wrong about all the details.
After all, 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us:
No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.
However, here’s the thing: it’s going to be at least as good as I can imagine. God has not promised me this particular vision, but I can trust that what I’ll receive will be better.
When I come face-to-face with my beautiful Warrior-Lover-King in the next life, and he tells me what’s on the agenda, there’s a 0% chance I’m going to be disappointed.
Until then, exercising my imagination helps me keep my eyes on the finish line. When the FOMO (fear of missing out) strikes, challenging my self-denial, I can find comfort remembering that the missing out is only a brief, temporary state.
Do you ever imagine any particulars for the next life? How often do you yearn for or take hope in a life of healing beyond this one?