The righteous one will live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4

The other day Mike and I mused about the pleasure that comes from looking forward to an event. ‘Half the fun is the anticipation’ goes the old adage.  And that can be true.  But sometimes we’re actually disappointed, for what we pictured in our mind’s eye didn’t come to pass the way we hoped and built it up to be.  On the other hand, who hasn’t been pleasantly surprised when something they pictured as being just ‘ho-hum’ surpassed their expectation!

As a general principle, I find that the days leading up to something I imagine to be favorable are generally the best part. When we were preparing to move to western North Carolina, to fulfil our dream of living in the mountains, the months leading up to that June 2013 move date cheered us. We were full of energy just dreaming, thinking and planning for it.

So, why is it that we Christians don’t live with that kind of joy-filled anticipatory sense of excitement about life in the new heavens and earth with God? It can’t be because we don’t know what it’ll be like.  The Bible shares many scenes, images and metaphors of forever life in the Kingdom of God. 

It’s a shaky reason to say ‘It doesn’t seem real’. As a young adult, the summer before leaving to start college, I could hardly wait to head off to the University of Virginia.  I had studied the course catalog and read all the literature.  I formed an image in my mind about what it would be like.  I counted the days until mid-August.  Up to that point in my life, going off to college was the most exciting thing I had ever looked forward to.

How did my four years turn out? They were not at all a happy time.  My freshman dorm roommate and I ended up not speaking. I struggled with bulimia and my dating experiences weren’t all that satisfying. But the pleasure of looking forward to this new phase of life brought much joy.

Applying our natural desire to ‘have something to look forward to’, we Christians should be far less restless and discontent than those without the hope of Christ. Our Bible plainly lays out what awaits us when we leave this life.  Charles Dickens affirmed this reality, having penned words uttered by Sydney Carton as he climbed the steps to the guillotine, It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

You might push back and argue, ‘But we really DON’T know for sure what heaven is like.  No one has come back from the grave to tell us!’  I’d respond, ‘You’ve forgotten Jesus!’

Nevertheless, granted that no one credible other than Jesus has returned, we still should enjoy anticipating our bright future.  As Habakkuk affirmed and Paul repeats: Christians are believers who live by faith.  That is, they trust Jesus’ words and his deeds. 

How can we ‘rev’ up our excitement about our certain future?  By pouring over the ‘brochures’, those biblical passages describing what awaits.  How enthused would I have been had I not studied the available literature about my future college back in the ‘70s’?  The more I pictured my soon-to-be life, the more excited I grew.

God has given us the faculty of imagination.  Let’s use it to increase our gladness and our peace. One day what we take on faith will soon be sight.