Thursday, April 16, 2009

Things to never tell a child: #4 Grandma will be waiting for us in heaven

This is a difficult one.  It comes out when people are grieving.  They miss Grandma.  They're longing for a chance to talk to her one more time.  But don't say it to a child.  A child thinks in concrete terms and if you paint heave to look like Grandma's house, their image of and purpose for heaven will fall short of that which God has in store.

I don't like too talk too much about heaven.  Heaven is out there.  We talk about it all the time.  Our hope is that some day we will all live together in heaven.

Or is it?

Our hope is that we can please God.  Our reward is that God will bring us into his presence.  Grandma is a wonderful part of our life on earth, but our reward isn't about recreating our relationships from earth in a new place.  The afterlife is about God.  (Actually, this life is about God, too.)  At any rate, it is not good for children to miss that point and the central point of this life or the next.

Of course, when I use Grandma in this post, it could just as easily be any person of a dear relationship.

Don't think that we should not assume that Grandma will be in heaven.  That's possible as far as we mean by heaven in the presence of God for eternity.  In that picture, Grandma may visit us.  But we can't assume that.  The thing is, we don't really know what the afterlife has in store for us.  We know a bit about it, but we don't know much.

What do we know?
We know that God will be the center of it.
We know that it is a city which implies that there will be people there--lots of people.
We know that there will be other spiritual creatures there.
We know that our Lord is preparing a place for us--and he's coming back to take us there.
We know that there will be no death or pain or crying.
We know that it is a reward for those who are righteous in Christ.

Instead of painting a false or assumed picture for a child, help them to understand the known things of the afterlife.  Tell him that Jesus loves Grandma very much and she is happy with him.  Some day we can be there to.

I hope that we get to see Grandma in heaven.  What a special reunion it would be.  But, as special as it may be, I just might run right by Grandma on my way to the King.  I hope Grandma isn't offended. If she's thinking about it at all, she'll probably be happier for my reunion with my Savior.

I don't know what that will be like, but I know that this life and the next is about God first.  God's arms will be and are open, waiting for me.

I can't wait.  But I will wait.