Objection to Heaven: But will there be iced cappuccinos in Heaven?

Objection #1: “Heaven won’t be good.”

I am sipping on the most delicious store bought iced coffee to ever come in a gallon jug.  The only problem is, it is almost too delicious.  I am having my third cup today.  Those of you who know me know that I tend to be a wee bit hyper anyway.  I don’t really need three cups of iced coffee to help me out.  However, in my defense, I am battling my allergies, can’t spend my afternoon writing outside in the sun, and am loving the yummy boost.

The problem is, I drank all my coffee before I finished the first paragraph.

This coffee reminds me of a Baskin Robbins frozen cappuccino drink I used to get on Saturdays with my dad and weekdays with my mom.  Ok, maybe Mom didn’t get them that much, but she got them more times than she told Dad.  Then the Baskin Robbins on the side of town we lived by closed down.  So we had to drive all the way to the opposite end of town to get our favorite frozen drink.

Then that one went out of business, and there were no more frozen cappuccinos drinks from Baskin Robbins.

My dad was a lot like me–in fact, I bet you he still is, only the way a person totally perfected by God is.  When my dad liked something, he really liked it.  And I am sure, even now, that when he likes something, he really likes it.  He was perfectly content to eat a 99 cent Wendy’s cheeseburger every day because it was a) cheap and b) tasty.  Even when he had Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and struggled to swallow, he managed to get a Wendy’s cheeseburger down for weeks longer than he should have.  That was my dad.

He liked the quesadillas from Taco Bell, too.  The first time I heard him order one, I realized he needed a little training in Spanish.  He said, “We’d like two quessa-dillas, please.”  The Taco Bell cashier didn’t even correct him!  But that was just like my dad to get away with something like that.  He was so polite to everybody, it was hard to point out his mistake.

He was so polite to everybody, in fact, that when his speech became so slurred that the words of language were leaving him and he was beginning to sound inhuman, one of the Wendy’s cashiers where he always got his 99 cent cheeseburger with maybe 99 cent nuggets or a 99 cent salad and perhaps a 99 cent Frosty for dessert asked him what was wrong.

Wendy’s was very sorry to hear he had Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  There isn’t really very many people who treat fast food clerks like they are every bit as important as everybody else.  And there are even fewer people who really believe it.  But my dad did–innocently, without any effort to do so.  Maybe it was because he’d worked in the kitchen of a burger place as a high school drop out.  But he just thought of people as important like that.

. . Like I said, when my father liked something, he really liked it.  And since he liked the Baskin Robbins frozen cappuccinos, he really liked them.  And since I am my father’s daughter, and when I like something, I really like it, and since I liked Baskin Robbins frozen cappuccinos, we drank them together on the weekends.  (And I drank them with my mom in the week, which, as I’ve mentioned before, he might not have always known about.  He does now.  Mom may be in trouble when she gets to Heaven.)

Now, here I am, some seven-and-a-half years after my father died, sitting in a chair in a house he’s never seen, with a cup of what used to be iced coffee.  You can still see traces of it in the melting ice.  He would have liked this coffee.  Extremely much.  He would have liked it a) because it is tasty and b) because it is cheaper than the Baskin Robbins version.

But is he missing out?

I have to smile.

I have to smile, because I know the answer.

Here I am, taking three kinds of medicines for my allergies, with my sore neck, and this tiny-but-ugly scar on my face from when the doctor took my stitches out too early.  Here I am having just paid a $500 medical bill for doctors’ visits and worried about when I am going to clean up the clutter in the kitchen and living room.  Here I am trying to find the right words for a blog, and knowing I almost never get exactly at what I’d like to try to say, and when I do, it’s like a little scratch on the crust of the earth rather than the drill depth I want to go.

Now I am in no way in a hard life.  I actually have had an unbelievably easy life, and I know it.  But what I mean to say is, would my dad trade his life for mine?

Now he’d laugh at that.

Because when my father likes something, he really likes it, and let me tell you what my father loves more than anything:

Jesus.

And the Jesus I pray to, and listen to in His Word, and seek out–that’s the Jesus that my father knows talks to face to face and even knows His home address.  (And that’s a home address you can’t google, by the way.  There aren’t any public records you can pay to see that will tell you how to get to the home of Jesus.)

I think people get carried away trying to tell other people they know what Heaven will be like, when they really don’t.  I think that because I certainly have myself.  So I’m not going to try to guess what my father is doing right now.  That’s hidden from me.  I live at a different address.

I don’t know if there is iced cappuccino in Heaven, but I doubt it matters either way.  I used to think about Heaven as some kind of wish fulfillment of what I liked most on earth: a giant Chuck E. Cheese.  In fact, before my father died, that was what I compared Heaven to, to try to help him get through death.  It was a really stupid idea.  Chuck E. Cheese doesn’t help you when you are choking on an Ensure drink or can’t raise yourself up out of bed.  But Jesus does.

It seems to me like expecting Heaven to be a big neat parade of the things we like down here is kind of like a roach thinking of peoplehood as all the things the roach loves, only bigger, and more of it.  More trash.  More rotten wood.  And worse things than that.

It isn’t that we won’t experience feelings of joy in Heaven like we do here.  A roach can be happy over a piece of trash.  Imagine how happy that roach would be if it became a human and could dine at a five-star restaurant?

It’s the stuff here that is no good comparing to the treasures in Heaven.  We look at physical stuff and think it translates over.  Do we like iced coffee drinks?  Well there must be more iced coffee drinks in Heaven, better iced coffee drinks in Heaven.

Nah.

There’s no good in trying to dream up what’s waiting for us in Heaven.  We’ll just have to get there to find out.  Jesus guarantees us we won’t figure it out.  And I think it’s kinda a waste of time for me to try.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

(1 Corinthians 2:9b, NLT)

What I do know is, the God who comes to earth to suffer an anguishing death on a cross in order to save us from our sins isn’t going to make a Heaven where we’re sad that we don’t have any more iced coffees to drink.  I can tell you that for sure.

Jesus gives us a guarantee so simple songwriter Steve Green turned it into a song for small children.  It is one example of the unselfishness of the Lord Jesus.  He could have chosen to give us brain-bursting descriptions of Heaven or written a brilliant code about Heaven that nobody could crack and that would become a bestseller.

But He didn’t do either.  The Creator of Words and most brilliant wordsmith of all, the One who can invent languages quicker than the snap of a finger, the infinitely clever God who can with one thought drop a puzzle from Heaven that no one on earth could solve in an infinite number of years . . . talks to us in pure kindness, like the best of all fathers to a little child:

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2, KJV)

The most comforting thing I can think of hearing from a friend when I have any doubt about whether he knows what he’s talking about is this:

If it were not so, I would have told you.

If I was standing in line for a train, and I had no idea what would be at the end of that trip–a drop off a cliff, a prison, an ambush, a desert, or a land that would make C.S. Lewis’ Narnia look as ordinary as an empty parking lot . . . and if I asked my friend, over and over again, with great worry, if he really knew what we were going to be facing, this is what I would most want to hear:

If it were not so, I would have told you.

This carries the unfathomable realm of trust that causes a child to laugh when thrown into the air by a father.  Jesus knows.  He doesn’t waste time answering our little questions about whether there will be iced coffees or whatever other “stuff” we wonder if we’ll see there–He gets right straight to the heart of why we’re going there: because of Him.

If a friend of mine spent her life savings to pay for me to go on a vacation with her, do you think I’d go?  You bet I would!  I wouldn’t wonder whether or not she thought this was a worthwhile trip.

How much more, then, when God spends His life for us to come be with Him, should we trust that He believes Heaven is a good place to go?  And if He believes Heaven is a good place to go, then Heaven is a good place to go, because God’s Word is Truth.

We trust Him to get us there, and we trust Him about what is there.  Or we don’t trust Him, and we don’t go there.

Just like Heaven isn’t something we can get in our world . . neither is Hell.  Just like there isn’t any good thing that comes from this earth that can compare to the treasures of Heaven . . . . . there isn’t any bad thing that comes from this earth that can compare to the darkness of Hell.  Just imagine: if God decided, out of the love in His heart, that it was worth dying a tormented, humiliating death to save us from Hell . . what must be there?

That is something I don’t want to find out.  I take Him at His Word, and I look forward to Heaven, where I know this for sure, this that quiets all my questions about the goodness of Heaven:

He has been there.

He is there now.

and

He will be there.

“The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.”

(Jesus, quoted in John 3:31, NIV)

Now all I want to know is this: Will I be there?

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:8b-9, ESV)

The Second to Last Time

The second to last time, I put my Ipod computer connector in the right place.  I’m almost sure of it.

.           .          .          .          .

I have to admit–I splurged.  My first day of summer vacation, I bought three audiobooks.  Three.

I got only unabridged, because I can’t stand abridged books.  It bothers me and makes my scalp itch the same way of when one M ‘n’ M out of the package falls on the floor.  It doesn’t matter if I wasn’t going to eat all the M ‘n’ M’s–the whole experience is ruined because I lost one.  In the same way, it doesn’t matter whether the book is tedious or not–I don’t want to lose a word.

But the books I bought were far from tedious–the kind of stuff I love: Max Lucado, Michael Card, and a new author for me, though I’ve heard of him, A.W. Tozer.

I was all set to tackle any boring spring-cleaning-postponed-to-summer projects.  I was ready for any car trips, and even laps around the gym I have to go to 12 times a month to get reimbursed through insurance and which I am barely going to make.  New books, new summer, ready to go.

I know for certain there have been times I have put my Ipod connector cord back in the wooden box that stores our television remote controls (when they are in the right place).  In fact, I put that Ipod connector cord back inside that wooden box very recently.  I remember.  I think it was the second to last time, in fact.

The second to last time, I am very nearly sure I put my connector cord right where it belongs.  And the second to last time, I was proud of myself and a wee bit gloatish at my sharp memory.

But the last time . . the last time . . . . .

I didn’t.

You have probably figured out how I know this.

Yes, I went to go get it.  You see, there is something I have learned about ipods that’s completely important to their use.  You cannot just tell the ipod what music you bought and expect it to believe you, and you cannot just hold it close to the computer and hope that they talk.

You have to have a connector cord.

But I don’t know where the connector cord is.

The second to last time, I put the cord in the right spot.

But last time, I don’t know what I did with it.

And now I don’t have it.

And Max Lucado, Michael Card, and A.W. Tozer did not spend the afternoon sharing their books with me.

I tried to find my ipod connector cord, but I didn’t try very hard, because I am not very good at finding things.

I tried to listen to my paid-for audio books on my computer, but my computer has only built-in speakers, and they are not very loud.  My comfort level with music is about 8 notches higher than most people’s, and my computer’s speakers, at full blast, are softer than most people like, meaning that, even if I press my head against my computer, I am not happy with the volume.  And, as you well know, a person can’t do laundry or run laps around a track (and certainly not drive) with their head pressed against a laptop computer.

I’m not too gloatishly proud for putting my ipod connector cord away the second to last time now.  Because now is the last time, and now, I have no way of listening to the new books I bought unless I invent a way to attach my laptop to my head.

The second to last time doesn’t matter when it’s the last time.

Jesus tells a parable about ten women who were on their way to a wedding party–they were something like what bridesmaids would be today.  They hadn’t been married yet themselves, so they were probably very young women.

They had to bring lamps with them.  There were no flashlights in their day, and they needed the lamps to welcome the bridegroom when he came.  Half of the women didn’t just bring lamps, they brought extra oil too–like bringing extra batteries for a flashlight today.  The other half of the women didn’t bother.  They’d brought the lamps; that seemed enough.

For the first part of the night, there wasn’t one perceivable bit of difference between the women.  They all had their lamps burning.  They were all ready to greet the bridegroom when he arrived.

But then something happened that they did not expect.  The wedding wasn’t over when they’d thought it would be.  They were sure the bridegroom should be there by now, but he wasn’t.  All of the women fell asleep waiting.  Not one of them stayed awake.

Have you ever been woken up in the middle of night and startled out of your wits?  That’s what happened to these women.  They woke up in the dark, probably confused and scared.  And they all remembered their lamps.

What hadn’t been perceivable now quickly became the most apparent thing about the women.  The ones who had brought the extra oil were ready to go.  Their light cut through the darkness, and they weren’t confused or scared anymore.  They were excited.  They could at last greet the bridegroom.

The women who hadn’t brought extra oil weren’t having the same experience.  They were frightened and worried with that sick worry of having done something they couldn’t make up.  Their thoughts darted through their heads as they tried to come up with a solution.

If only the bridegroom had come at dusk, or even a little after.  They were ready then.  But now, they had nothing.  They couldn’t greet him with dead lamps.

They asked if they could borrow some oil from the women who’d brought the extra oil.  But this wasn’t the right time to share.  You see, the women who’d brought the extra oil didn’t have any they could give away.  It turned out, they had just what they needed.  They knew the only place the other women could get oil for themselves would be the market.

The market, in the middle of the night?  But the other women would try it.  They rushed off and, amazingly, found some peddler to sell them oil on that black hour.

But it wasn’t the right oil.  The right oil was the oil that had been available yesterday afternoon and all through the night while they’d been sleeping.  This oil–this oil came too late.

They got back, but the door to the party was shut and even locked.  They could hear all the laughing and warmth and good conversation going on inside–but they couldn’t get there.  So they knocked, thinking the bridegroom would know them.

But he didn’t.  They hadn’t been there to greet him, and he didn’t know them.  They weren’t invited in.  And it didn’t matter how brightly their lamp had shone at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon–right now, their lamps were empty.  And it was dark.

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

(Jesus, quoted in Mathew 25:1-13, NIV)

Where we think we stood with God five years ago or even five days ago isn’t going to matter when Christ comes back, or we die, and it’s today.  If you or I aren’t sure we follow Jesus, referencing a time in history when we thought we were isn’t any good for now.  There will be no salvation to ask for after we die, and no chance to meet Jesus once He comes back to the sound of the trumpet.  The time to get right with the Lord is now, because, once now is up, it isn’t going to matter what we thought we had yesterday or fifty years ago, or the aisle we walked down, or what prayer we recited.  All that will matter is whether we know God right now.

It doesn’t do me much good to reminisce about the time I put my ipod connector cord in the right place, does it?  What matters is that I find where it is right now.

It’s encouraging to me that none of the women are expecting the bridegroom to come at that hour, but five get to go in anyway.  Why is that?  The five who go in don’t go in because they were better dressed or had more hors d’oeurvres.  They go in because they still had oil.  They hadn’t just got lamps.  They made sure their lamps were filled.

In the same way, we can’t just get a “salvation experience”.  We have to make sure we know Christ.  He is the flame that lights our lives forever.  Without Him, we have only the dying, dim light of this world and a useless lamp to hold it in.

The opportunity we have to receive Him in every moment of our lives isn’t going to help us if we don’t take it.  What we could have chosen isn’t going to help us once the door is closed.  What will determine where we go for all eternity is what we choose do before the door closes, not after.

Dear Jesus,

You are the only one who knows what is in my lamp, and You are the only one who can reveal to me what is there.  Show me whether I have real light or false light–whether my lamp is filled with the life only You can give, or filled only with the nearly-empty pleasures of this world.

I pray for Your Salvation.  Not a moment of following You, but a lifetime.  I know it’s not about my perfection.  I fall asleep to the temptations of this world plenty of times instead of staying alert to what You want me to do.  It isn’t about my shortcomings; it’s about whether or not I am filled with You.

My salvation isn’t made by how I look to others, or how my lamp compares to another’s lamp, or how ready I thought I was for You yesterday.  My salvation is the fulfillment of punishment You gave for my sin.  I want You to fill me, because You are the only Light that never ends.

Give me what is so readily available anywhere I am, whatever I’ve done, whoever I am: Your Salvation.  I want Your Presence before it’s too late.

It isn’t the bridesmaid in the most elegant dress who makes it through the door, but the one who holds before her the lamp of Your Life.  The girl in dirty rags, up from the sewers, fleeing from prison, too poor to buy from any dress shop, cast out of all parties, banned from all fine neighborhoods . . . who holds out the lamp of Your Presence . . . will find You at the doors of the great feast . . . . . . . . holding them open.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!
(Jesus, quoted in Mark 13:33, NLT)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

(Isaiah 60:1, NIV)

the people living in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

a light has dawned.

(Matthew 4:16, fulfilled from Isaiah 9:2, NIV)

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Photograph is under Creative Commons License.