Keuka Lake Sunset

One evening recently, my wife and I went to the local drive-in theatre. It has been a tradition for us to get there at least once every summer. It’s always a double-feature. So you are bound to get one good movie out of the experience.

And, if you are fortunate, have a nice evening under the stars. Which we did.

The movie was Christopher Robin. Which is the re-uniting of Winnie the Pooh and his friends with a grown-up Christopher Robin. It was very well done.

Without going into the details of the film, let me just say what really moved me. It was the relationship between Robin and Pooh. The deep love between a talking, stuffed animal and a man.

The innocence of the relationship between Christopher and Pooh caused me think about the nature of heaven. Of the innocence and purity that awaits us there. Of the joy, the beauty and intimacy we will know with the Lord and with each other.

Longing for Purity

Down here, we are still battling with sin. Still dealing with that “wretched man” which Paul spoke of in Romans 7:24. Still seeing that all things down here have a taint to them. Which, when we look back, casts a shadow over the best of our memories.

That is the deep sigh of life.

The fact that we are still in this vale of tears. And that we will wrestle with sin, evil and temptation until we breathe our last and see the Lord face to face.

Then it will be OK.

I think this is why Disney has such a following. Because, despite their corporate descent into so many unclean and perverse things, they still understand that people long for the beauty, wonder and “innocence” of early childhood. And will occasionally produce something that is basically decent.

I say this to underscore that we may not find much fulfillment down here. Our lives down here may be more about suffering and disappointment than we would have anticipated. And there may be much left undone that we had hoped to finish.

Along this line, I’ve become increasingly aware of how many Christians get wrapped up in the whole life-down-here philosophy. By that, I mean that they are very intent on experiencing all that life has to offer right now. Because, as they say, “You only go around once in life; so you’d better take advantage of it.”

Now, I get that. Sure, we shouldn’t waste the time we have.

The Eternal Reality 

The problem is that life down here is not the real point. This life down here is meant to fulfill what the Lord wants us to do. To give the Lord His inheritance in us. To know Him and to follow Him.

All else is a toss up. Whatever else we may be blessed to experience is by His mercy and grace. And by His purpose. Which we will probably never clearly see this side of Eternity.

Unfortunately, most believers today are living no differently than those who have no hope. They are thinking about their lives now. Thinking about their own goals, their own ambitions, desires, plans, etc.

As if Heaven is not real. As if it is just the icing-on-the-cake later on. After we fully experience all that this life has to offer.

In truth, I think most believers today do not really see Eternity as they should. They are too busy, too pre-occupied with a thousand other things that are more about the here and now than the life to come. Because they don’t see the real need that people have to know Christ.

Because Heaven is just not as real to us as we say it is. And the Eternal status of people is not as critical to us as we claim it is.

And yet, the whole world still feels this longing for Heaven (whether they admit it or not). As the scriptures say, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22). All of nature feels the sting of sin. All have suffered death and decay because of man’s sin.

And none of us, except through the Rapture, will get out of here alive.

The Real Hope

But the Lord has given us abundant hope. The hope is that the life ahead, beyond this vale, will be wonderful beyond imagining. Death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire. We will have new bodies and our sin nature will be gone forever. And we will be like Him. And we will see Him as He is.

And we will know love in its purity. In all its innocence and joy. Free from misunderstanding and shame. Free from all selfishness and bitterness. As small children running hand-in-hand through the fields. Experiencing the full intimacy that we have always longed to have with each other.

I am hoping for a huge bear to run around with like Teddy in A.I. or Pooh in Christopher Robin. To be able to walk around and talk with him like Calvin does with Hobbes. To be surrounded by animals that talk. Which is the way Eden may have been.

With Adam and Eve talking with the animals before the Fall.

This thing is, if we can imagine something in this world, then God is able to do infinitely beyond that imagining in the world to come. Think of that for a minute. Where do we think the longings and imaginations come from? The good stuff comes from the Lord — from His mind and His Spirit.

So if you and I can actually think of something, how amazing must God’s ability be? How beyond all wonder must the future be that God is preparing for those that love Him?

Be Still, My Soul Hymn