This past semester I really enjoyed my 18th century literature class. It was a little bit like a book club, except that we had quizzes, tests, and papers to write. But essentially what we did was read the assigned reading, go to class and discuss what we liked about the reading, what we didn't like, how the reading was characteristically 18th century, how the writings impacted people during the time they were written, and what we could take away from the reading for ourselves today. Quite often, the class discussion took interesting turns with slight detours only remotely connected to the original topic at hand.
One day in class we were discussing Samuel Johnson and parts of his novella Rasselas, which I will eventually go back and read in its entirety. Rasselas is a story about a young prince who has been confined to a valley of sheer entertainment and is unsatisfied with the aimless life he lives. Because of his discontentment with life, Rasselas, his sister, a philosopher, and others they meet along the way, set out on a journey to observe different aspects of life to find out how true happiness may be obtained.
Somehow while discussing Rasselas and his quest for true happiness, the topic of heaven came up. We began conversing about what heaven would be like and pondered where on earth the idea of sitting on clouds and playing harps for eternity came from. We imagined all of the amazing things that we'll be able to do in heaven, and we thought about all of the questions that we have about life and God and how we'll have all of eternity to learn about these mysteries. My mind ran wild with all the possibilities that eternity with God holds.
Then, my professor began to paint a picture for us of our Heavenly Father. I'll attempt to recreate the picture he placed in my mind.
Children love to display their knowledge and creations to their parents and hope to find approval from them. Anytime they create or accomplish even the slightest thing, they run to show mom or dad. "Mom, see the picture I painted today!" a small child shouts while waving the still wet paper with colorful markings. "Dad, come see my fort!" the young boy says while tugging his father's hand, pulling him toward the array of couch cushions, blankets, and chairs. Every child wants to show their parents what they've created and excitedly displays their masterpiece in hopes of receiving the approval of those they respect and love most.
In heaven we will have the opportunity to have this kind of relationship with God. While exploring the multitude of galaxies filled with God's creations we will have the chance to learn about the intricate details of life, to create wonderful masterpieces of music, architecture, and more. We can enthusiastically reveal our latest accomplishments and discoveries to our Heavenly Father who is anxiously waiting to see what we've done or learned and smile with pride and joy at his children and their delight. And we will be able to spend time with God while He explains and shares His thoughts on His creations- why He made certain things, how they work, what He was thinking while He made it. We will be able to enjoy an intimate relationship with our Father unlike any other relationship we've had before.
Even while I'm writing this, words escape me. I cannot begin to describe or imagine all that living with God in heaven for eternity will encompass, and this short description of one facet of the personal relationship we will have with God doesn't come close to defining what our experience in heaven will be. And just think, if we are willing, God wants to begin this relationship and experience with us now, here on earth.