Back in the 1990s my immediate and my extended family used to rent a house on an Island once a year. We'd converge from three or four different states on this rental and enjoy a week together at the beach. Of course this was an event that was eagerly and fervently anticipated. We'd email and telephone back and forth about our plans once we got there. I would look at the photos of the rental house at least once a week. I'd google for maps of the place and look at all the roads leading to and from and around the house. How far was it from town? What restaurants were nearby? Where was the bike rental place? There was no detail spared in looking up and anticipating our visit.
"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:2).
I was talking with a friend the other day about a concert she was planning to attend. I got excited for her, because it was a big concert. We both laughed as I asked if she looked at a schematic of the auditorium to see where she and her companions would be sitting. Looking at photos of the venue, looking up biographies of the men in the band. It was exciting to think of the big event, and no detail was spared in all the discussion about what the concert may be like.
Do you ever have excited conversations with friends or family about a big upcoming event you're really looking forward to? You know you have!
Why don't we do that with heaven? We talk more about upcoming concerts and cabins than we do heaven! But heaven is a fact. It is real, and it is there. We are definitely going. Even the concert could be canceled or the rental cabin could burn down, but the fact of our going to heaven if we are saved by His grace is real and unalterable. As a matter of fact we are already citizens of heaven!
You would not believe how many people look at me strangely because I talk excitedly about the place Jesus is preparing for us. Or remark on the trees lining the River of Life, or the color of the emerald rainbow surrounding God's throne, or meeting up with Noah or David or Hannah and walking with them, or any number of things that the bible describes as the future promise. Being in heaven with Jesus is THE MOST EXCITING THING in the entire universe, it awaits every Christian, and yet few talk about it! We talk about the big concert or the summer cabin with more excitement than we discuss the glories of the place Jesus is preparing for us.
It is important to have an eternal perspective. It is the secret to contentment, because it puts earthly trials in their place. It ignites hope. It soothes the heart. Adopt an eternal perspective because it is exhorted in the bible for us to do so.
“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)
We do this in several ways. Have an active prayer life. Talking to Jesus sets the mind on the things above, because that is where He is.
Also, read the bible, and focus on the passages where it describes the things to come in concrete terms. Like the passages in Ezekiel after chapter 39 when the Millennial Kingdom is set up (the kingdom will be on earth and limited to a time of 1000 years but we ourselves will be glorified by then and living in an eternal body). Read Revelation 21 and 22. Read the passages in Corinthians and Thessalonians describing the glorified body.
The truth of the word will permeate your heart and mind and this sets you up for thinking of the things above. (A side note: AVOID all books describing heaven tourism, books like "Heaven Is For Real" and such nonsense. Stick with the words God gave us in describing His holy habitation, they are true and trustworthy).
Then, think on these things. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is
just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if
there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think
about these things." (Philippians 4:8). And what is more pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent than His heaven and our home?
Finally, talk about these things. When I speak of making a date with a friend in heaven and going to see David or Noah or Hannah, they look at me funny. But these names are not just bible characters, but real people dwelling in heaven in real worship right now. When the time of glorification comes, they will have real bodies, as we will, and we will worship and sing and walk and talk and eat and live together! It is a fact. Talking about heaven and the bible's men and women as real people whom we will see makes it all the more real for those with whom we are having the conversation. (And for those listening to us!)
If we're not embarrassed to spout on and on about the cruise we're going to take in a few months, then what is so embarrassing about talking about what our place in heaven might look like, or the fruits of the trees of life lining the river, or the pillars of the temple shaking as the cherubim sing HOLY HOLY HOLY? Those things are more real than the cruise, which hasn't happened and might not, while God is in heaven on His throne right now! (Revelation 4:1-5)
“If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodsman's ax, we should not be so ready to build our nests in them.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Pray, read, think, and talk about heaven. You'll find your happier, more content, more able to endure hardship, and your re-oriented perspective will excite the brethren and please Jesus. What's to lose? It's a win-win all around.