Harry and Jeannette de Lange had been married 63 years. Their love continued through difficulties and in later years they were placed in separate living facilities. They were finally able to arrange for Harry and Jeannette to move to the same room in one nursing home. Their love story became complete a few days later when these two died within 20 minutes of each other. When I read stories like that, I smile and think that’s how I want to go. I want a nice long life with my amazing wife, and then, we die together peacefully.
Marriage, based on God’s plan, is the closest thing to heaven on earth. After a meeting the other day, I mentioned that I needed to get home to my wife. Someone asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to stay here a little longer?” I just smiled and said, “No.” My wife and I have been through a lot, but we have always had each other and we have always kept our faith in God. Honestly, sometimes biblical passages that discuss marriage scare me. “Jesus replied, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.’” (Luke 20:34-36)
In some views of heaven it seems as though the afterlife is a big family reunion. If you believe some folks, our entrance to heaven will be like having our names called out as a starter in a sporting event, and we run through the Pearly Gates high fiving and slapping hands of our loved ones from earth. Jesus shatters those dreams, and the dreams of an eternal marriage in this response to the Sadducees. They give Jesus a ridiculous scenario based on the Law. A widow, following the Law, ends up marrying seven brothers. When she dies, who gets her for eternity? I’ve seen strong Christian leaders who were widowed and married again. It would be easy to wonder if maybe things would be awkward in heaven at least. Jesus reminds us that heaven isn’t about us. Heaven isn’t about our earthly relationships. Heaven is about God. Our whole focus in heaven will be on God. As a Cubs fan I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how a loved one who never got to see the Cubs win a world series on earth is smiling in heaven now; all I can say is that if they are in heaven with God they probably didn’t even care about the series. They were too busy in that gigantic worship service praising God.
We who live on earth and have never been to heaven have a lot of different views about what heaven will be like. Some of those are comforting. Some of those are disconcerting. All of them are weak and feeble depictions of the glory and grandeur of heaven. I wish I could tell you what heaven would be like but I can guarantee you that no matter how amazing a picture I paint of heaven, God has something much better in store. Ultimately, heaven will be about our relationship with Him. Our marriages on earth are designed to teach us what it means to become one with another person. Sometimes they fail because we as humans are weak and sinful. In heaven we will learn what it means to become one with God. We will have an eternity to be with God, as children of the resurrection, in a relationship that will never fail because of God’s mercy and grace. Any other speculation about heaven is beyond me.
Lord, we look forward to heaven because we want things to be better in the afterlife. Remind me that heaven is about You. Help me to practice living in Heaven each day by growing closer to You.