Last week, Kara’s third and final book And It Was Beautiful was released. While the Mundane Faithfulness team is thrilled that David C. Cook compiled her blog posts telling the story of her illness and long goodbye, giving us the opportunity to share these writings in book format, there is an element of grief that has come with the book release; we have known for many months this project was in the works, and now that it is here, it is one more chapter of Kara’s earthly journey that is ending. It significantly marks the passing of time since Kara was here with us.
I remember when she first went Home, how I would count the days: It’s been 24 hours since she left…It’s been 1 week since she left…Life has continued for an entire month without her…We are celebrating her birthday without her…Last Christmas, my babies were opening pajamas from her…
Of course, last fall there was the release of Just Show Up. That was bittersweet, too, but we gathered together joyfully, and Jill graciously allowed us to celebrate her doubly; the evening was filled with laughter and the exchange of sweet memories.
March 22 will mark 1 year since Kara went Home. Since she died. And we are all gearing up for that anniversary. Sometimes the grief stabs me in pangs, similar to 11 months ago. I gasp, unable to breathe, straining against the sobs that rush me. And then Sunday, this blog post popped up on Facebook from a year ago. I couldn’t swallow the hot tears back down.
My reflecting on Heaven hasn’t stopped since I wrote this; if anything, it’s increased. But now I know Kara is there, enjoying the source of her grace face to face. Thank you, Jesus, for taking our girl Home, for never letting go of our—your—girl.
Kara and I have spent a lot of time dreaming about Heaven together, and we always have, even before Kara’s current diagnosis. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about, knowing so many people who have gone there, and now more than ever I think about it. As I’ve shared before, having to prepare a 2-year old for what will happen with Kara is forcing me to really evaluate what I believe and what Scripture says is true about Heaven.
Since that post, I’ve had a lot of people tell me their own struggles in thinking about Heaven; this makes me sad. We will be spending eternity there! Heaven is where our Hope lies, it is the relief from the brokenness of this world, it is where the incarnation of Hope—Jesus—dwells. That is our true home—doesn’t it make sense that we should think about it? And not only think about it, but dream about it!
But why do we struggle? Is it the discomfort of acknowledging our own inevitable death? Is it not understanding much about Heaven and what it will be like? Is it the embarrassment over entertaining the thought that Heaven might be boring or gaudy? Is it that no one we know can give us first-hand information about what Heaven will be like? Is it the fear of being overwhelmed by how much we don’t and can’t know?
I’m not sure what our glitch is; yet, this I can tell you: if I did not dream about Heaven and believe that it is a real place that will satisfy and overwhelm my heart with joy and healing, then I would despair. I can’t say goodbye to Kara without a vision of seeing her again in radiance, health, perfection.
My favorite writing on Heaven is Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, and I haven’t even finished it. (Don’t judge—it’s really big!) But reading this book and reading what the Bible says about Heaven has given me such an image. Heaven is free from pain, free from tears, free from illness. There will be no zits, no warts, no ingrown hairs, no hemorrhoids, no mosquito bites, no hang nails, no canker sores, no cavities, no sunburns, no razor cuts, no bruises, no heartburn.
Those who can’t walk on this earth will run in Heaven. Bodies that are riddled with cancer will be perfect and strong in Heaven. Mental illness will be wiped away, minds broken by Alzheimer’s will be restored, and no one will be tormented by hormones or headaches. We will have no fears, nothing bad can reach us. We will never slip going down stairs or trip over our shoelaces. We won’t step in dog doo or become nauseated by a passing skunk. We won’t see animal carcasses on the side of the road or ever have to see a loved one in a hospital attached to machines. We will be healed from abuse of all kinds without a single scar.
We will never argue with each other, we will never hurt each other’s feelings, we will never be shamed. No one will call us names or make us feel small or embarrass us again. Humiliation will be nonexistent. We won’t be at a loss for words. We will be able to express our thoughts perfectly and we will enjoy the conversation of one another, never getting bored. Relationships will not just be restored but redeemed. Bitterness will disappear, as will grudges and anger and resentment. Forgiveness will abound and past sins will fade in the presence of God. We will be freed from the bondage of selfishness and seeking our own gain. We will have perfect perspectives and will not hold onto hurts from this world; in fact, we will see purpose in those hurts as we will see purpose in everything that happened in our lives.
We will finally have the opportunity to understand God’s purposes in all things (Romans 8). We won’t wearily wonder why bad things happened, but will understand that ultimately all things were for God’s glory, even those things that hurt so much at the time. We will rejoice in God’s plans and will understand even better the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.
We will be reunited with loved ones and will get to meet new friends. We will enjoy each other perfectly in the presence of God, and we will have perfect relationships that satisfy and bring joy to all around us.
The gifts God has given us to worship him—art, literature, music, math, science, etc.—will be redeemed and expressed in their intended state. Oh, think of the music! Imagine the prettiest song you’ve ever heard, the joy and depth of emotion you experienced when you heard it, and multiply that by a million! Not only that, but we will be able to join in that music. And it will be glorious and a sweet sound to God’s ears.
I will be redeemed. I will be a perfect version of myself, the me God intended. I won’t struggle with bitterness or shame. My giftings will come to fruition. I will be freed from bondage of sin and selfishness and seeking my own comfort. How much of my day is about being comfortable? How much of my day is governed by what would make me happy and feel the best possible? How many decisions of mine are warped because they went through a weird filter of my needing to weigh the benefit to myself? Friends, I will be freed from all of that. I won’t think unkind things anymore or feel a need to compensate for my shortcomings. I won’t fear rejection. In the presence of God, I will be me. And I will understand God’s love for me. And I will love him and understand who He is.
When you think of Heaven, please don’t be sad! Let’s look forward to that day when God will wipe away our tears forever (Revelation 21).
When you think of Heaven, what comes to mind? Why/why not do you think of Heaven often? What fears or reservations do you have? After reading this post, is anything sparked in your heart about the amazingness of Heaven? Can you pray for a seed of faith to start believing Heaven is wonderful and better than you can ever imagine? Who can you dream with about Heaven? Do you know for sure you are going there when you die? As Randy Alcorn says, You are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person, and Heaven is the place. They are a package—they come together. You cannot get Heaven without Jesus, or Jesus without Heaven. “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). If you have any doubts, pray that God will show you the Truth as you read His Word.