The hope of the Christian on the basis of faith in the atoning death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is manifest in the words of Jesus Christ: “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). In the words of the Apostle Paul: “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him'” (1 Corinthians 2:9). “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 2:13). The epistle to the Hebrews expounds the hope of the faithful Christian: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” In the testimony of John of Patmos, in the Revelation of the Apocalypse: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”
I have at times lived on the melancholy side of life, particularly in my twenty-something years. I confronted mortality with close calls of life and limb in my own life. I face the reality of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, hence my operative phrase is “Lord I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)! I have flirted with stories of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), filtered through a Christian, Augustian, Neo-Calvinist worldview, and through the teachings of Holy Scriptures. I don’t know that those who preview heaven really so much get past its threshold gates, and they’re not so privileged to see all that lies within if God calls them back to this world. But I think there’s something to Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) that literally put people in front of Jesus.
I am fascinated with the idea of being there in Heaven one day. It’s my hope; it’s the hope of faithful believers in general. So far from taking stock in visions of a “mansion” or a “castle” in heaven, and material things, I would like to think of my own little stretch of equestrian estate removed from the celestial city, which maybe off in the distance. It’s a place of unimaginable, monumental beauty. It’s place God bequeathed to me, where Jesus himself will fellowship and walk and talk with me. Bisons and horses gallop around. It’s just a natural landscape but one full of colors, fragrant flower plants, and life. It’s home to towering snow-capped peaks that resemble places I’ve visited from Montana to Switzerland that mark its boundaries at equidistant length from one point to another. It has fjords that resemble the beauty of Milford Sound on the South Island of New Zealand or Norway. It has waterfalls, streams, and seas. It has azure blue waters, abiding with warmth and a profound feeling of love, and it’s full of friendly cetaceans and fish, and colorful coral reefs. It has crystal clear waterfalls that jettison off of tall mountain peaks into back bays and sounds. It has caves that are illuminated inside and offer spelunking adventures, shortening valley journeys, and offer detours off beaten paths. It has sandy white beaches.