For a number of reasons, I have been thinking a lot about heaven this week.
On Tuesday night, our family and our neighbor friends, the Ishidas, went to a barbeque at the Hajis’ home. We first got to know Mrs. Haji three years ago as she served as our postal lady, and we went through an interesting spurt of receiving lots of packages… Through that, we became friends with her family- her husband and three great sons. Two studied English with us for several years; their family has hosted a number of team members who have come through. The dad and two sons now are police officers in Osaka — good friends to have!
The BBQ was a fun chance to get caught up as well as to say goodbye for the next number of months as we go to the US. Mrs. Haji’s brother and family also came, who we’ve visited with a number of times. They have a two year old daughter who was born with severe Down’s syndrome, and most likely blind in both eyes (they still are not completely sure whether she can see light or not). As I held her in my arms for quite a while after dinner, I tried hard not to cry. I felt so angry — at someone or something. This isn’t how little Miku was supposed to be. Olivia was running around and laughing next to her… Miku should have been running around as well. When they fed her a liquid broth through her feeding tube for the thousandth-something time, I felt such a sweeping sense of sadness and near despair.
And I thought about heaven. Heaven is where Miku-chan will be redeemed. We don’t think about heaven too much when life feels good. And yet it is a reality- it needs to be a reality- that drives us and undergirds our belief system that God is not just redeeming us here on earth, but that He will redeem us when He embraces us face to face. As I held Miku and stroked her face, I longed to see the time when Jesus would not just hold her but redeem her body and allow her to see His face and His glory.
“[Heaven is] the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience…We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it.” –C.S. Lewis
The previous week, a neighbor friend came over to talk about the Bible with me and our Christian friend J. The issue of heaven and hell came up, and J. shared with her what she thinks the Bible says about heaven and hell. Later, she confessed to me that she struggles so much with heaven and hell because she’s not sure what she really believes about them. I think there is so much unknown about heaven– so much that is intentionally left blurry because our finite minds can’t imagine.
Joni Erickson Tada has done a lot of thinking and writing about heaven. She finds talk about halos and pearly gates very boring….but rather loves to imagine what it will be like. Her analogy to describe the glorification of our bodies: “Compare a hairy peach pit to the tree it becomes, loaded with fragrant blossoms and sweet fruit…” I so believe that Miku’s broken body will be like a beautiful peach tree, redeemed to be who she is meant to be. And in the meantime, I need to keep musing about heaven, and working through my own theology of heaven.