So much more than we imagine
A little boy sat coloring at the kitchen table. “Guess what, Mom?” he said. “I’m drawing a picture of heaven.”
“But no one knows what heaven looks like,” said his mom. “They will,” said the boy, “when I’m finished.”
Everyone tries to picture heaven. What is it like?
When you think of heaven, you usually imagine it as a paradise. You think of the most beautiful place you have ever seen and imagine that it must be even more beautiful. There you will have not just everything you need, but the best of everything. You will be young and healthy, not just for a lifetime but forever.
But heaven is so much more than that.
St. Paul says, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Is he saying that heaven is so much nicer than we can ever imagine? Yes, but he is also saying that heaven is so much more than we can imagine. A place, even when it is a paradise, is not enough to fill a human heart.
Only a person can do that.
Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3, emphasis added). If heaven is a paradise, it is because Jesus is there. So when you imagine heaven, forget about the scenery for a moment and imagine being with Our Lord. But don’t think of having him next to you. Imagine him being in you and you being in him. Imagine love that goes straight through you. Imagine being perfectly happy.
Now imagine this: It begins now. Most people think of heaven as a place to go later after they die. Yes, but no. Yes, perfect happiness exists only in heaven when union with Jesus is complete. But no, you don’t have to wait to experience his love and peace until later. In fact, you must not wait. You can’t really expect to be with Jesus in heaven if you spend your life ignoring him now. For Jesus to prepare a place for you in his home later, you must prepare a place for him in yours now.
Do you want happiness to begin now? Then welcome Jesus into the home of your heart. Think about Our Lord, talk to him in prayer, listen to his word, introduce him to your kids, confess that you are sorry when you have hurt him, receive him often in Holy Communion — which is a taste, literally, of how close he wants to be to you. He cannot wait for you to be with him. He will come live with you now, as he did with the saints. Like them, you will experience a foretaste of what heaven is like. You will love everyone better, you will be at peace even when you suffer, and you will carry Jesus with you wherever you go.
How will others know what heaven looks like? They will, when Jesus is finished with us.
Susie Lloyd has won three Catholic Press Awards for her writing. Find her books, articles, and speaking schedule at SusieLloyd.com.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, March 2019