What will heaven be like?

Scan0010This past weekend we spent Sunday touring the Cowboys Stadium. It was amazing. The best part of the tour was at the very end where they just let us play on the field. I will be fifty-four in a couple of months but I had a blast. I kicked the ball, threw the ball and I caught the ball. I did things I had not done in more than 20 or maybe 30 years. I felt like a kid and it reminded me of a theological dilemma I tried to work out when I was thirteen.

When I was thirteen years old I heard a sermon about heaven and it caused me great concern. You see, the preacher, said we were going to spend all our time in heaven singing praises and worshiping. Now, I have always loved to sing and I probably enjoyed church as much as any kid but singing praises and worshiping 24/7 sounded like torture. In all honesty it still does. Now at thirteen years old the thing I loved to do most was play football. I literally slept with the football in my bed and I carried one to school every day, not just in season, but all year long. 2013-06-16 165c

One day I heard another preacher say that heaven would be better than the best world we could possibly imagine. I began to dream about what I hoped heaven would be like. In my dreams every day was Sunday, we got up, went to church, worshiped and then we played some football. The theological dilemma was not whether there would be football in heaven, of course there would be. I could not imagine heaven without football. My theological dilemma was how people in heaven could experience the thrill of victory if no one there ever experiences the agony of defeat.

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The concept of winning and losing just did not go together with Bible verses on there being no pain or sorrow in heaven. I actually remember struggling with this in my mind night after night and sometimes during the day. Eventually, I decided they would probably not keep score in heaven or maybe they would only keep up with the difference. Either way, I imagined if one team got too far ahead we would just pick teams again and start over. 1014571_10151662331954883_1117832724_o

As I got older I realized that this is completely childish thinking and eventually I decided to take a closer look at what the scriptures say about heaven. My favorite scripture on heaven is in Luke Chapter 23. There were two common criminals who were crucified side by side with Christ. One of the criminals was defiant until death and railed against Christ, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other repented and he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Did you here that; Jesus said, “in Paradise.” What did Christ mean by paradise? I honestly still don’t know but I like the sound of it. At fifty-three it is enough that Christ described heaven as paradise. 2013-06-16 176

As an adult I have reconciled myself to the fact there is probably not going to be football in heaven. I am now 40 years older and way too mature for such childish dreams. Still, deep down inside of me there remains a tiny flicker of hope that after worship on my first morning in heaven, someone will pull out a football, and ask, whose pick is it?

Perspective

Elmer Warford running the saw at the Warford Sawmill

Elmer Warford running the saw at the Warford Sawmill

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8

In the 1940s Elmer Warford (my grandfather) and his brother, Aud Warford, ran a sawmill that supplied much of the lumber for the Lonsdale Community in Saline County, Arkansas.  Elmer used to tell me that Aud was the brains of the operation.  Aud was quick minded and was especially good with numbers. Aud ran the business and kept the books. Elmer worked the mill and kept the saw running. Elmer Warford is at the controls in this picture and as you can see from studying this photograph the mill was very crude. The entire process was driven by the engine of a model T ford.

In the 1960s when I was a kid I remember Papaw and Aud talking and telling stories about the mill. I remember them laughing about a time when after Aud got through paying all the workers and their bills they had three cents left over to split. Elmer would grin and say, “now three cents was a whole lot more money back then that it is now.”

When Papaw was younger he talked of the Warford Mill as if it was a failure but as he got older his perspective changed.  With age he came too looked back on the days of the Warford Mill with pride. The last time we talked about the mill he spoke of it as a success, not because the mill made money, it never made much. The source of Elmer’s pride were the homes and barns built throughout the community with the rough cut lumber from the Warford Mill. For years after the mill closed he could drive around the community and see evidence of the impact the mill had on the lives of many people.  Just as important, during very hard times, that simple sawmill managed to feed the Warford families and the families of other men that worked in the small logging industry the mill created.

We will never achieve God’s omnipotent view of our situation but maturity can broaden our perspective enough so that we may see our disappointments in a different light. Whatever the day may bring we can be sure God is still on His throne.