Heaven is For Real: But, Do We Believe It?

“But, Jesus isn’t really here because I can’t see him!”

My own four-year-old barely got the words out between sniffs and sobs. It was a special Sunday night at our house: all four of our children were “camping out” on the playroom floor. (We live in Texas and it’s way too hot to really camp outside.)

After the lights went out, the big sister decided it would be an appropriate time to talk to aforementioned son about the monsters she’s seen coming out of the attic. Of course, the rope that opened the attic door was swinging just a few feet from his head as he listened to her stories. A few seconds later he rushed downstairs in a panic. Seeing the real fear in his eyes, his daddy pushed pause on the movie we were watching in order to comfort him with reminders that Jesus was real, with him, and protecting him.

Ironically, that movie was Heaven is for Reala mostly true story about a four-year-old who visits (or somehow sees) heaven and has all of his fears–from arachnophobia to being alone–alleviated after a few minutes in the presence of Jesus.

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s hard to believe what we can’t see.

We had to pause the movie a total of eight more times. Four more times to settle down the playroom campers, three times to move said campers from the playroom back to their beds as the settling down never happened, and one additional assisted bathroom trip (which marked a milestone in the potty-training progress of my three year old so I have no complaints there.)

Even with all the interuptions, I liked the movie. It reminded me that life is short and that sometimes believing things with our heads is a whole lot easier than believing them with our hearts.image

My only gripe was with the wife character. She was a little odd–always wearing skirts and dressed a little seductively. (Even pencil skirts-while folding laundry on the floor. Comfy?) Instead of walking she sort of slinked about and it personally made me a little uncomfortable. (Others I’ve asked about the movie didn’t notice that, so maybe it’s a personal problem!) To me she was half seductress and half the “weirdo” pastor’s wife stereotype (her unusual singing voice that graced their congregation regularly). I just didn’t get her…

But, as much as aspects of her character made me cringe, I appreciated the way the plot line showed the normal-ness of a pastor’s family and their struggles. A calling to full-time ministry didn’t equal a perfect or question-free existence. They jammed out to “We Will Rock You” in the car, got angry when life seemed overwhelming, and wrestled with believing just like we all do.  This is a part of the story that I didn’t get from reading the book alone.

The line that struck me the most was in Todd Burpo’s (played by Greg Kinnear) sermon at the end. He asks his congregation this question: If you truly believe in heaven would you live different?

Let me say that again. In addition to relieving our fears, if we truly believed that heaven was a real place, that Jesus was real and with us always, would it change the way we live each day?

I processed that question as I went to bed last night. I thought about this blog and all of my friends who struggle with their body image and feel trapped some weeks in a cycle of dieting or body hate that consumes them.

I wondered: if we really believed that Heaven is for real would our dress size or the number on the scale here on earth matter all that much?

If I really believed that Heaven is for Real would I spend the day thinking about how I could spend more time in the gym or get to the mall to get more cosmetics or clothing?

If I really believed that this life was short and that the afterlife wasn’t…How would that change my body image battle, today?

What do you think?

 

6 Comments
  • Pam Merten
    August 11, 2014

    I have never had a problem believing heaven is for real; since childhood I have never doubted that. It has been more important to me to remember that Jesus lives inside of me and that because of that he goes wherever I go NOW. I do not need to wait until I die to experience His presence and his guidance thru whatever troubles me. It is because of Jesus being with me in here now that I am freed from horrendous body image problems I once struggled with; I did not believe I ever see anything but darkness when it came to my self image. the relationship with myself was a mess. It was and still is the Holy Spirit who has gifted me with his perception of who I truly am that changed my life: Beautifully, Wonderfully created. I do not need to prove that I am beautiful. I now know that I already am. To believe otherwise would be calling my Lord and my husband liars. I now love to move my body according to its design. I now enjoy choosing only the foods that make my body work great. I have felt emotionally, physically and spiritually more alive and healthier in the past 10 years of my 61 than I ever have in my life. Heaven is where Jesus is. He us here NOW and he will be here with me throughout eternity. I love him!! None of what I shared here is meant to dismiss the pain of real life events.

    • Heather Creekmore
      August 11, 2014

      Well, said, Pam. Thanks for sharing that. You are right…He can set us free…here on earth. We don’t have to wait for heaven for that freedom! 🙂

  • Annie
    August 11, 2014

    I believe very much that Heaven is for real – that’s the only thing that keeps me going some days, when I see suffering all around me, the darkness of this present age, and the world going to hell in a hand basket. It is most certainly the only reason I stayed in my faith walk during some long dark periods of living hell, or had the courage to return to trying “church” or being with the body of Christ again after a huge ugly church split about 15 years ago. If Heaven isn’t for real, then there have definitely been times I would have given up, walked away from the faith, or checked out permanently.
    I think In struggling with body image, it’s not a lack of belief in Heaven or Jesus being real, it’s more the days that seem endless, when we get bogged down in having to function in this world but not be “of it”; you know the kind of days I’m talking about- when the good the bad and the ugly are up in our faces and we forget how much He loves us right now, and how much He wars on on our behalf to bring us into freedom- from our pain, our skewed body image, our emotional or relational wounding, or addiction, or whatever our particular struggle may be. It’s not doubt about Heaven but rather the longing for it, and the seeming “forever” before we see it ourselves that causes me to get lost in the temporary, less important stuff. Being a single gal, if I’m also feeling lonely, it’s much easier to think “if only I could be a certain size, or have great hair, or no wrinkles, or ________ (whatever lie we buy into), then I would be loved, i would have a boyfriend, or a soul mate, or more friends, or get married, or _________” (whatever we think the cure for that loneliness is), than to put the time and effort into my “invisible” relationship with the One who is always present, always loving me, and always waiting to give me comfort, belonging, peace, security, healing or anything else I need. But putting in that time is what makes Heaven “for real” on earth.

    • Heather Creekmore
      August 12, 2014

      Beautifully said Annie. Just like when my four year old was screaming for comfort, “But I can’t see Jesus”…that’s the hard part. Drowning out the messages that tell us that happiness and comfort don’t come from those things on earth…that’s the other hard part. Praying for all of us to get a taste of his very real love today!

  • EdCarden
    August 13, 2014

    “I wondered: if we really believed that Heaven is for real would our dress size or the number on the scale here on earth matter all that much?”

    This is from a man’s perspective but in short the answer is Yes, but not for the secular reasons that are often associated with the issue of dress size or weight. The overall health of your body is about more than just how you look to others be they the opposite sex (for attraction) or the same sex (for comparison or impressing). With today’s environment of toxic junk everywhere including some places we almost cannot avoid (i.e. fluoridation of public water supplies) it’s more important than ever to treat you r body more like a temple then a trash can. That’s not to say you have to eat, exercise and live like some kind of health guru but that you do need to live in a way that respects your body. If you don’t respect your body it will show and others will pick up on this and be affected consciously or subconsciously.

    Knowing/believing in Heaven does not alter the physical space/time of this reality. NJo matter what you believe you are still going to exist in this reality for some finite period of time and therefore should do so in as positive a manner as possible that is Christ-like. I have no doubt that Jesus was not concerned about his own robe size but I do believe he was conscious about what he eat choosing to avoid eating in a gluttonous manner regardless of availability of food. Had at the time of Christ they had incredibly fattening and sugar infused sweets as we do today I believe that Christ would have enjoyed these in a measured manner. You can take the attitude that because I believe in Heaven and because this life is fixed I can eat till I’m stuffed but doing so will not result in a better life. The same goes for the opposite extreme. If you obsess about your body you will end up worshiping it and that’s not a good thing either.

    As with everything in life it’s about balance. Whether you believe in heaven or not you should believe in a healthy mind and body without making it an obsession. If you do that then the rest of life and what you want while in this life will come and it will be better than if you had taken a laissez-faire attitude towards eating and/or the care if your body.

    Heaven is the destination but life is the ride and there’s no shortcuts on this road trip so make sure it’s a good one

    • Heather Creekmore
      August 13, 2014

      Thanks for your perspectives, Ed! I really appreciate what you said about being healthy and treating our bodies as our temples. I do think it’s easier for men think in those terms than for women…but I can’t say that with authority since I’ve got no experience in thinking like a man! Haha. But, I do think, more so than for men, the struggle for women is more about beauty and the lie that it will give us life and joy than it is about health. I teach in a gym and although you would assume most of the women are there because they want to be healthier and feel better, the truth is the bottom line is they want to look better. That was my main point.. would we care as much about how we looked if we knew our eternal purpose… I really appreciate your thoughtful comments and response.

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