Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hearing for the First Time: What Heaven Will Be Like

    Like many others, I’ve often tried to comprehend what it’ll be like on the other side of eternity.  For most people this entails the tired clich├ęs of puffy, yet stable clouds, pearly gates, and floating around with harps and sandals.  Please.  Then you have a host of people that see beyond the woeful pop-culture and iconographic religious traditions of yesteryear yet hold onto still spurious and inadequate visages of a “restored” Garden of Edens, upgraded “paradise” Earth’s, and other terrain-based locales seemingly subject to entropy.  Really?  You think God is going to mess with the laws of thermodynamics and Newton’s fancies in his grand new creation?  You think Jesus went to “prepare a place for us” all this time only to have that place still confined by only length, width, depth, and time?  You think He is gonna busy himself with used parts like the Earth and matter?  Speaking of confinement, what an enclosed view of heaven this would be.  What a “human” view of heaven this is.  No folks, God isn’t going OEM (original equipment manufacturer) upgrade, or NOS (new old stock).  God is most definitely going NIB (new in box) – well because he’s so much more than and so far beyond just this existence; transcendental.  Methinks the “new heavens and earth” will be much the same.  Which all brings me to this woman below…

    If you’ve ever read the book “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions”, a satirical novel written in 1884 by a geometry teacher, you’ll have a concept of the utter incomprehensibility inherent in an entity from one set of dimensions to comprehend reality in an existence consisting of additional dimensions.  This is sort of how it is with us as humans in our reality, and God as God in his reality – invariably consisting of additional dimensions.  
    You may have already seen the news reports about this woman:
29 year old Sloan Churman was born deaf. She used to read lips up-till now or used hearing aids to a very limited extent. Two months ago, she received Envoy Medical's Esteem Implant, which utilizes ear drum vibrations to bring hearing back to its users. Her husband captured her reaction on video. Her reaction was extraordinary and full of joy.

The moment her initial surprise turns to uncontrollable crying joy, almost to the point where she cannot breathe, is the closest visual representation I can think of what our reaction will be when we first experience the other side of eternity.  You see, if heaven were like the first two aforementioned simplistic explanations that most people adhere to…well I don’t think we’d react that same way as this woman.  Sure we’d be totally surprised I bet, but it would more transition into great wonderment and perhaps a level beatific appreciation the likes in which we never experienced; perhaps extended speechlessness.  But our dispositions would still be grounded; grounded in the fact that everything, despite its apparent divine “upgrading” or “paradise-ness” would still seem vaguely familiar, fathomable at the very least.  Yet when you see this woman react, she is transitioned not to merely wonder and awe, but a complete, uncontrollable, inexplicable joy; a tender moment if there ever was one for sure. She cannot control herself for the simple fact that what she is experiencing is unlike anything she’s every experienced, known, or possibly dreamed of.  Of course this example is inadequate in its metaphor to what experiencing heaven will be like, but I truly believe, at least in my life, this is the closest example I think of what we’ll feel like when we experience heaven.  Not really wonder or awe, satisfaction or appreciation…but complete and utter uncontrollable joy.  We will experience a reality and additional dimensions of existence that we could not know or fathom prior and they will literally turn us into sobbing messes of joy.

    I’m not trying to knock traditional views of heaven (though I do think them inaccurate based on not only Scripture, but the context of God’s existence), often presented in encouraging sermons, books, and songs.  I guess watching this video though reminds me of how grievously inadequate our specific interpretations or speculations of what heaven will be like.  Despite all the speculations Sloan may have had about what it would be like, it’s joyfully clear that they were lacking when she did experience it.  I’m not claiming to be able to give you specifics of what heaven will be like (primarily the crux of my argument – and that most of Biblical allusion to heaven is allegory because of our limits to describe it)…I just know it will be so beyond, so transcendental of anything we’ve ever known, experienced, or could hope to grasp or fathom; sort of like “hearing” for the first time in our lives.

Yet this life is too bittersweet…Jesus please come soon.  I want to feel this.

Interestingly...just remembered I wrote about this same topic on EbbWorld back in 2004 (albeit a bit more um...enthusiastically, but also scholarly).  Check it out.   July 23, 2004 - Heaven

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