My mother and I differ from each other in some fundamental ways. She counts it a pleasure to go to a social event and meet strangers. I prefer to read about such things in a good book. In quiet moments, my mother likes to sew. The closest I come to enjoying homely duties is puttering in my garden, pulling weeds, and pruning my newest rosebush. My mother’s idea of the perfect outdoor activity is shopping at flea markets for antiques. I would rather be on a trail with my mountain bike or heading downstream in my canoe.
I suppose these basic differences could be thought of as a problem for our relationship. But we have found ways to work around them, and somehow we survived my growing-up years together. We both love the same family— our family—and refuse to let our differences divide us. We admire each other’s skills and handiwork and enjoy sharing our accomplishments with each other. And we have plans for the future.
When we get to heaven,* we plan to go into business together. I will play architect, designing and landscaping buildings, while she decorates the interiors, coordinating everything from paint colors and wallpaper patterns down to the dishes in the kitchen cabinet. We can’t wait to discover the new building materials and decorations we will have to work with!
Our favorite Bible verse about heaven is Isaiah 65:21: “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” We’re pretty sure that in heaven, just as is true here on earth, there will be people who would rather do something else with their time than plan and supervise building construction. Of course, we can’t be too specific about our plans since we don’t have a detailed picture of what heaven will be like. But we do know that “no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). With a promise like that, the sky is the limit of what we will be able to do. There’s no guarantee that heaven will be like what we envision, but the good news is that God will provide something even better than the best thing we can imagine.
I have a friend who has already planned a nine-story house with a seven-story mango tree growing in the atrium and a waterfall coming out of the fourth story. (There’s possible competition for my architecture business!) Another person I know envisions a personal planet covered with fine powder snow in living colors piled on mile-high mountains. As he skis through the snow, the particles vibrate together in enchanting musical harmonies.
Of course, architecture is not the only thing I am looking forward to in heaven. There are 1,000 (and more) things I want to do that I know I’ll never get to in this life. I would like to be an artist and paint pictures that give glimpses into the heart of things. My weak singing voice has always been a trial to me. I dream of being able to sing my heart out in heaven with a voice like Mahalia Jackson’s.
Financial constraints will no longer limit my travel. Imagine the exotic locations we’ll find when we can journey to the stars. Why not little home spots— simple condos would be fine—on several far-flung planets? And there’ll be no rush to get back to work on Monday morning.
Imagine the people we will meet and the stories we will hear—more fascinating than any book we have ever read or any movie we have ever watched. And, speaking of movies, God must have all the happiest stories recorded in a technology far beyond our finest virtual reality multimedia machines. Why not watch some of these “ultra” movies on His five-dimensional surround-sight discovery modules?
I’ve always wanted to have more time to spend with my friends and family. Maybe we will get together and spend 100 years touring the west end of the Orion Nebula. Or we could have a garden party in my 300-acre arboretum near Alpha Centauri. (After all, the Bible does hint of heavenly banquets!) I like to imagine my family and friends enjoying the most mouth-watering gourmet foods together—and it’s all good for us, even the chocolate! Maybe I can find someone who loves to cook who will trade a few gourmet meals for a newly designed house. (The dishes, of course, will be dirt-proof and won’t need cleaning.)
The greatest joy
The Bible suggests that what we will enjoy the most about heaven is the joy of being with Jesus. That sounds rather pious and unlikely at first thought. But then I remember that even here on earth we prize above everything else our relationships with family and friends. It seems only natural that I will enjoy even more being with this incredibly caring divine Friend who never lets me down. His disciples certainly felt that way.
I know myself well enough to realize that I would not be satisfied just wandering around, pleasing myself throughout eternity. I need to feel that I am doing something meaningful, something that makes a difference in other people’s lives. I suppose architecture could count for that, but I am glad to learn from the Bible that we will all have a place to serve God. Maybe I will be part of a heavenly gospel music group, touring the universe to sing about what Jesus did for us. Or possibly I can help care for the gardens around His city palace in the New Jerusalem. There’s plenty of time to try anything.
Sometimes I wonder what makes me think I belong in heaven in the first place. I certainly haven’t done anything particularly righteous or impressive to win my way there. I’m glad to know that God isn’t interested in acting as a heavenly gatekeeper, trying to keep people out of heaven. Yet I appreciate the fact that He is committed to making sure that heaven will be a happy place for everyone. He designed His law carefully to describe how we should live, so that we, and everyone else around us, can be happy.
If I weren’t interested in keeping His law, I would be pretty miserable in heaven and so would the people who were stuck living near me. I’m thankful He allowed His Son to die to bring us forgiveness and new hearts for positive living—because I have big plans for heaven.