Heaven is wherever you let Jesus be.
Aren’t you as fascinated as I am with heaven? Why not? The idea of it, the location of it, descriptions of it, definitions of it—not just every whimsical opining, but those substantive revelations born of more than mere human genius.
Take, for example, the affirmation that “heaven is a ceaseless approaching to God through Christ.”1 Or consider the implications of the statement that “all who enter heaven where Jesus is will have in this life the characteristics that will make heaven here below.”2
So can we really have heaven here below? And how come heaven is a journey, “a ceaseless approaching”? And why a ceaseless approaching! Is it then an endless journey? Is heaven ultimately inaccessible? And how do we explain journeying “through Christ”?
Suddenly the questions stop coming, and good answers take their place, fill wonder’s space, and proclaim all over again God’s marvelous grace. For was it not Christ who proclaimed Himself the way, and the truth, and the life? No one ever comes to the Father except through Him (verse 6). Clearly, then, heaven is a journey. And unquestionably now, the trip, inclusive of its travel arrangements, prepaid tickets, and first-class seats, all of it is Jesus the Christ. The prodigal bounties served up to satiety throughout the voyage belie the sense that this could be a flight, so far do its provisions outweigh even cruise ship bounty. Certainly the service on this heaven-bound itinerary is not modeled on any flight I have recently, or indeed ever, taken. The difference is, of course, that this one is all Jesus, soaring all the way to glory.
But why “ceaseless”? Because our metaphor must collapse in frustration at some point, once the focus of its explanation is God. It will always be impossible, whether here on earth or there, in heaven, to explain adequately the subject of God. Our quite illuminating “journey” metaphor, with all the exciting things it lets us say about Jesus, the Way, gets into trouble when it suggests that we never get there. But this is good trouble. Because it means that God is inexhaustible. It means that there will always be more delights to meet the eye, “new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of body and mind and soul.”3 At His right hand “there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11, KJV).
The metaphorical trouble is good trouble. Because it means the journey never ends, as in heaven is forever, whether up there or down here, whether now or later, whether beyond the stars or in the earth made new. Heaven is Jesus’ company for ever and ever and ever and . . . . Thinking of it that way, with Jesus as the thrill of it all, you see how heaven can actually begin here below. Because even here below you may have Jesus. Hence John’s insistence that if you’ve got Him you have, here and now, in the midst of earth’s blight of sin, everlasting life (1 John 5:13). Because it’s Jesus, not some materialistic preoccupation with durable or gaudy metals, that truly, properly, and accurately defines heaven.
Heaven is where Jesus is. Or, since it’s up to you whether you’ll have heaven or not: heaven is wherever you let Jesus be.
1 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 331.
2 Ellen G. White, The Upward Look, p. 257.
3 Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home, p. 549.
Lael Caesar is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published January 26, 2012.