As I have now hit the 60-year old mark, my mind often wanderers to questions about how much more time in the outdoors I will have.
Many of the activities I enjoy and participate in require some level of fitness or health. As I ponder the questions, I realize we all have an expiration date for our time on earth.
While we understand that life on earth will end, as Christians, we also have a hope. A hope in a great God who does all things well and has promised, if we believe, we will have eternal life with him in heaven.
That leads to the question about what heaven will be like and for answers we turn to scripture.
Isaiah 65:17-18 states, See, I will create new heavens and a new earth, the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
This verse indicates that we will not remember the sorrows of earthly life, but will delight and be joyful in our new heaven.
Revelation 21:4-5 states, He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said "Write this down for those words are trustworthy and true."
In these verses, God has promised to wipe away every tear. He says in heaven there will be no more crying, pain or death. These are wonderful and encouraging promises from our creator that should allow us to look forward to meeting him in heaven.
Jesus answered them, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43
In this verse, Christ is responding to the criminal hanging on the cross next to him during his crucifixion. The criminal asked Jesus to remember him as he comes to his kingdom. Although it was clear the earthly life of both Christ and the criminal were about to end, the criminal trusted in God's promise of eternal life. Christ responded by indicating he would be with him in paradise, referring to heaven. So, by this verse we can gather that heaven will be paradise.
Of course, there are a number of other verses in the Bible that provide us a glimpse of what heaven will be like. What we gather for sure is it will be a place of paradise, where there is no pain.
At times in my life, I wonder how God will make his creation even better than what it is on earth. But there is no doubt it will be. In Matthew 19:27-28, Jesus speaks to the renewal of all things. And in Romans 8:18-21, Paul describes a place where creation itself will be liberated from its bonage and decay and brought into the freedom and glory of their children.
From this and other verses in the Bible, we can determine that creation will be renewed and a better place than it is on earth.
For an outdoor recreationist, this also leaves a question about what creation will be like. Will there be mountains, rivers and deserts? Will there be forest, wildlife and trails to hike on? Although I am not sure exactly what this might look like, in Isaiah 25:6, it describes that will will have access to the finest food and drink prepared by God himself. In Matthew 8:11, it indicates that many will feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. From this we can surmise that there will be physical substances in heaven. In the beginning God created the heavens and earth, and he called it good. If it was good to God, and was created by him, then we might believe that some form of this creation will be with us in heaven. Albeit saved by the grace of God. C.S Lewis once said, "God likes matter. He invented it."
Through our travels in life and our adventures in God's creation, we are once again reminded and humbled by scripture of how awesome heaven will be. How we will rejoice and be in worship of our God, Heaven will be a place of boundless adventure where the mountains are high and live forever. As Christians and folks who love the outdoors, that is a promise we can rejoice in.