what will eternity be like?

I watched my daughter chase after a flock of mourning doves yesterday.  She ran towards them at full-speed, arms outstretched, trying to “catch” one.  Apparently she wanted a bird to “land on her arm,” so she could “hold it” and “stroke its feathers.”  Clearly too much afternoons watching Mary Poppins, with the whole “tuppence a bag” woman.

Once I got over my inevitable bird-flu panic and stopped yelling “PLEASE DON’T TOUCH THE BIRDS!,” I noticed how disheartened she looked as each and every bird flew away.

I put my arm around her and explained about how wild animals are happier in their own environment and how she shouldn’t try to hold them because of viruses (still had to slip that one in).  

But as I was lecturing, I saw her face change.  It was as if suddenly she stopped listening to me, like she was imagining something else, some other time.

Then she interrupted.  “But I’ll be able to hold them one day, Mom.

I was confused for a second.

“In the new earth,” she said matter-of-factly, “When Jesus comes back, I’ll be able to hold the birds.  I’ll be able to hold all the animals!  And touch them!  And pet them!”  Her face lit up with delight.

“So I’ll just wait for that,” she concluded.  She shrugged her shoulders, seemed perfectly happy with this solution, and then ran back to play.

Why can’t I “just wait for that”?   Why isn’t that future hope enough for me when I don’t catch my bird?

After all, I know the truth just like my daughter does.  I know that Jesus will come back and proclaim freedom for the captives.  I know that He will sit on a throne and make everything new (Revelation 21:5).

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will heal everything – the land, the sea, the trees, the fields, the animals, the birds and you and me completely.

But sometimes knowing about the future isn’t enough, because the waiting still seems long and the present feels too heavy to bear.

So what can we do?

Well, maybe we can imagine.  Maybe we can make our future more “real” by imagining it more fully.

Maybe we can look at the truths from scripture about our eternity with Christ, and by imagining that perfection, we can make our present pain more bearable.  By fixing our eyes on our eternal glory, our present troubles may become more light and momentary, as Paul promises in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

So what will this eternal glory be like?

  1. Perfect Bodies – We will be given a beautiful, powerful, perfect body.  Paul tells us that our bodies will be raised in glory, imperishable and free from sickness, pain, disease, or death (1 Corinthians 15:42-58).
  2. Perfect Communion with God – We will be perfectly loved and perfectly known. We will experience the pure joy that comes from being in complete communion with God, a joy like a celebration at a wedding (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).
  3. Perfect Redemption of our Suffering – Jesus will enact righteous justice on our behalf.  Everything that seems so very wrong will be made right, and He will defeat the source of our suffering once and for all.

And beyond this, there will be so much more.  More than we can imagine.

So in the midst of the disappointment, in the fear and the waiting and the pain, stop and close your eyes.  Imagine what God will do in the end.  Imagine the perfect future He has promised to you.  Turn your face to light, because – soon and very soon – an eternal glory is coming that far outweighs it all.



The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.


The child will play near the hole of the cobra

and the young child put his hand into the vipers nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea. – Isaiah 11:6-9


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