Looking for Dens, Imagining Heaven

I recall visiting my secondary school in the late eighties as a prospective student. Traditionally, Year 5 children, called Junior 3s back then, would tour local high schools before making their choice. The school presents itself at its best, with interesting chemistry experiments being repeated, musical bands performing till they’re blue in the face and the school’s sports teams demonstrating their physical prowess. 

Whilst on my tour, I was on the lookout for something in particular. At last, I found it. It was a medium-sized tree between what was called the top and bottom fields. I had always been fond of making ‘dens’- defined by the dictionary as ‘a wild mammal's hidden home; a lair.’ I wasn’t a particularly wild mammal when I was growing up, but I was always making concealed dwellings, in or among trees, in which to dwell and play with friends. I went home feeling pleased- this was a school I was going to like.

15 months later, I found myself at that school officially enrolled as a pupil. I never did climb that tree nor seek to make a hidey-hole among its boughs. In fact, it never even occurred to me. What had gone wrong? I guess I had simply matured and grown up. As part of my transition from primary school child to secondary, I spent my energy and time pursuing other things. Sitting in a tree had as much appeal to me aged 12 as it does to me aged 40. 

Someone asked me what we’ll ‘do’ in heaven. He feared it would be boring, like being in a large, fancy hotel with no entertainment laid on. The man had assumed- or hoped- that the pleasures of this current life must be replicated in eternity. Heaven is going to be truly wonderful, but let’s not project our current hobbies onto its unfathomable reality. As I outgrew trees and dens, so many of our earthly pursuits we shall one day look back upon with chagrin and raised eyebrows, pitying our former selves for having desired them. If ‘heaven’ for you is watching box-sets of a favourite series, eating in a fine restaurant or walking along a moon-lit beach, you’re going to be blown away by the glory and splendour of God’s abode. All blood-washed believers will enter the presence of the universe’s most ravishingly beautiful One, whose overwhelming appearance and awesome character will captivate us for an eternity. Well might Isaiah prophesy:

Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. (33:17)

Wondering whether we’ll recognise each other is only natural, and attempting to imagine heaven’s splendours is not a poor use of our time, though such enquires are sure to fail. We cannot currently comprehend the next world any more than an unborn child can grasp the complexities of the maternity ward. Of what we can be certain, however, is that Heaven will be wonderful because He will be there:

 “My honourable Master and lovely Lord, my great royal King has not a match in heaven nor in the earth. I have my own guilt, but he has pardoned, loved, washed and given me joy unspeakable and full of glory”

-Samuel Rutherford. 

Image by jplenio from Pixabay