I was proud to call her my friend, even though I had not seen her for some time. I first met Louise when she came to work at our church as a student Youth Worker. I was about 15 or 16.
Back then I took school very seriously. I would spend hours studying, working towards ensuring I would get into my chosen university course. Amid all the study however, I made time for youth group. It was the highlight of my week when I would get together with my closest friends and have some good, honest fun.
Louise always reminded me that there was more to life than study. She showed me that there was always fun to be had, no matter what stresses were present. She showed me there was always something to laugh at, if you looked hard enough.
One of the things I remember most was Louise’s bubbly personality. She was always laughing about something. I can still hear her laugh now. She often had a funny story to tell me — usually about something embarrassing she did, or something funny about herself. She had a way of making others feel better about their world, despite what else was going on. I am grateful to have some great (and funny) memories of Louise.
I lost contact with her for a while (after moving to Melbourne), but I reconnected with her on Facebook. I am so thankful that I did, because even from a distance, Louise continued to inspire me with her ability to care for and serve others. She still managed to laugh at life, despite an illness that ravaged her body. Louise spent her life giving, and serving, and loving others and was a true example of God’s love.
This week, Louise finally lost her hard-fought battle with cancer.
From the hundreds of messages on her Facebook page, it is obvious that she was a true disciple of Jesus. She touched the lives of thousands of people.
During this week, I have been thinking about Louise a lot. I have also been wondering:
“What is heaven really like?”
Before you read my musings, I would like to clarify that I am not an expert in God, Jesus or heaven. I have no biblical training and I do not know the Bible back to front and inside out. I do love God, read the Bible, and go to church. However, none of those things make me an expert.
These are just thoughts, ideas and imaginings, that have popped into my head this week.
I think heaven is a place where there is no illness or pain. Your body (if indeed you have one?) will move freely. You will love it and be happy with it.
When you get to heaven there will be joy. There will be no sadness, envy, pride, competing with others, wishing you had more. There will be no more self-doubt or feeling bad about yourself. There will be no hate or bullying. Instead, people will be smiling, singing, talking, dancing — doing things to add joy to heaven.
There is no judgement, or put-downs or negativity in heaven. And I don’t think that those in heaven can see any of the negative, heart-breaking things that we see here on earth.
In heaven, I don’t think you will ever get tired.
I imagine that all those people who knew each other on earth, are reunited and free to carry on catching up with each other. When my Nan died, I imagined her in her new little house making pikelets and chocolate-peanut biscuits so she could have all her friends over for morning tea. I don’t even know if you get a house in heaven, but that’s what I pictured anyway. And I think that every time one of her friends makes their way to heaven, she puts on the kettle and gets out an extra cup. I’m looking forward to a cup of tea with my Nan.
In heaven, everything is beautiful. There are rainforests and beaches, and bushland and rivers. Waterfalls and ice. I’m not sure of the logistics of how you get around to all of them, but I’m sure God has that side of things sorted out.
In heaven there is peace. I won’t need to multi-task any longer, or follow a routine in order to get things done. There will be no more household chores to do. (Hooray!) Instead, I will be free to just be. Sort of like a holiday at the beach perhaps, but even better because the feeling of contentment will be ever-present, not just there for a while.
I think that in heaven, we get to do the things that make us happy. My Pa loved crosswords. I often think of him sitting in his chair doing the crossword, while Nan brings him a cup of tea and a plate of pikelets, loaded up with jam and butter. I’m quite hopeful there are lots of books and quiet reading rooms.
In heaven there is patience. No one is in a hurry. No one is frustrated or annoyed. Everyone looks out for everyone else and is good and kind.
There is definitely love in heaven. I’m sure it’s such a strong feeling of love that it wraps around you like a warm blanket making you feel warm and fuzzy and protected. I know that the amount of love in heaven is way more than I love my kids. That is kind of hard to get my head around, because that’s an awful lot of love.
There are some things I’m not sure about, however.
Are there cars? How do we get around? Can we fly like angels, or do we suddenly transport ourselves to the place we want to be?
I don’t know if there are houses. I imagine there are, but I’m not really sure.
I don’t think we will get tired in heaven, but I wonder do we need to sleep? And if so where? In hammocks strung between trees? On a cloud, or in a bed?
How big is heaven? It must be enormous to hold so many people. And will everyone know each other? If we don’t all know each other, will we get the opportunity to meet each other? I suppose there is time to meet everyone, because heaven is forever. But that’s still a lot of people to meet.
Does it get dark in heaven like it does on earth? Are there sunrises and sunsets? Nights and days?
I’m very curious about how we get to heaven. Does Jesus come down himself to take us? Angels maybe? Is there a large staircase we need to climb that winds its way through the clouds? A tunnel with a light at the end of it that we sort of float through? Do we get a chance to see everyone we have ever known before we make our journey to be with God? Maybe there is a train or a bus? I just don’t know.
However, amid all my wonderings and imaginings there are a few things I am sure of. A few things that I absolutely, 100% know.
God is real.
Jesus lives in heaven.
When I die, I will go to heaven.
I also know that Louise is in heaven right now. Her body is no longer fighting disease or feeling pain. She is there laughing and giggling. She will be chatting with her friends and family who have already passed on. She will be talking with Jesus. Most probably telling Him a funny story.
As we say our final farewells to her today (some at her funeral and some from afar), I do wonder however, if she knows just how much she will be missed.
Will she see the tears that people shed today?
Or will she just know that the world is a better place because she was part of it … if only for a while.
See you in heaven, dear Louise. xx
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