The average view of eternity is pretty boring. Who in the world thought it would be a good idea to picture heaven as strumming harps and sitting on clouds? Certainly not Jesus. Or anyone else in the Bible. That sounds to me more like life in the other place. I think it must be the devil’s tool to instill fear in people about eternity, rather than excitement. And when the New Testament Christians thought about eternity, they weren’t afraid, they were pumped up about it.
Our minds should be focused on the certainty of a mind-blowing awesome future, just as certain as the dawning of the sun each day. We get a hint of this magnificent life to come in Matthew 19:28-29:
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
I heard John Eldredge, the author of Wild at Heart and many, many other titles, talk about this last year at a conference in Nashville. He said he looked forward to that day because all the stuff he loved about this life would be returned to him and multiplied. That is an inspiring thought. No more loss, no more sadness, no more melancholy over the vaporous passing of all the lovely and satisfying things in life. Just everything we love spilling all over our lives, like a great waterfall of wonderfulness.
How might Jesus transform the world and everything in it at the “renewal of all things”?
I’m confident of certain parts of that, such as seeing my loved ones in Christ. I’m sure I’ll see my dad, give him a big hug, laugh at his dry sense of humor, and just enjoy his personality and warmth. I’ll also see my buddy Chris, who passed away last year. I’ll get to eat beef brisket with him again and see that great, welcoming smile. I take this confidence from 1 Thessalonians 4:14, among other places. I’m also quite positive I’ll have a perfectly healthy and fit body outfitted for eternity. That’s what we’re promised in 1 Corinthians 15:53.
But how that restoration program will roll out in other areas of life is a big mystery. So here’s my top 7 list of things I hope Jesus does when he renews everything:
1) My old pets come back. There is no mention of animal resurrection in the Bible. But I can hope. I’ve never stopped loving my first cat Taffy, or my boys Pete and Snoopy from when I was a kid. Or my kids’ first dog Molly. Or our cat Callie, who came to us from our friends Roger and Lynn. Or Sunshine, the best cat I’ve ever known in my life. Or even my oldest son’s fish Gyrados, or my youngest son’s hamster Zeus. I really hope they’re there.
2) Snow in summer. My son Mark gave this one to me. “Snow in the summer would be refreshing, instead of making you more cold,” he said. I buy that. And it would melt when it hit the ground. And for lovers of snow, it could accumulate in their little patch of eternity. Why couldn’t God alter the laws of nature on a person-by-person basis? He can do that if he wants. Why not?
3) Travel to other planets. I’d like to be able to pop over to Mars for the afternoon. Or maybe get an up close look at Orion’s belt, kind of like Wall*E in that scene where he’s hanging onto that spaceship and he can sweep his hand through the rings of Jupiter. Jesus could just appear and disappear wherever and whenever he wanted. He ascended into the clouds when he left the disciples. Atmosphere didn’t matter to him anymore. And he didn’t need a rocket or other vehicle to get places. I hope that applies to me too.
4) Running really, really fast. There’s a picture of this in the Old Testament, when the prophet Elijah is able to outrun King Ahab’s chariot (see 1 Kings 18:46). Our bodies will be different in every possible way. Why couldn’t I run a one-minute mile? Or a 5-second mile? And I wouldn’t fear my heart exploding in my chest. Yeah, that would be really great.
5) Great food and no weight gain. Pasta and cake and chocolate eclairs and frozen custard and lasagna ad infinitum. Never a pound to show for all that indulgence. No more diets. No more brutal workouts to burn calories. Just eat, enjoy, and it doesn’t show.
6) Gravity suspended. Jumping out of an airplane sounds intriguing in theory, but not in practice. I’d love to be able to jump from some crazy height, such as 10,000 feet, fall to earth at astounding speed, without fear, stop in midair if I want to, then hurtle to the ground again, but then pull up and land softly on my feet. And go do it again. Never a broken limb.
7) Jesus hangs out with me for some crazy amount of time and it’s no big deal. Whenever I’m around busy people, I always have this sense of not wanting to take up too much of their time. In eternity, time should cease to exist, so that shouldn’t be an issue anymore. I should be able to sit and visit with Jesus and not worry about him needing to get somewhere or even me needing to get somewhere. No miracles to perform for Him. No blogs to write for me. Just enjoy his company. And vice versa.
This is sounding like an eternity worth looking forward to.