The ‘Eternal Now’: Understanding the Concept of ‘Forever’ in Heaven

In June 2010, I was able to go on a two-week mission trip with a group from my church to a Girls’ Home in Bogota, Colombia known as “The Beehive”.  What I learned there about the concept of the eternality of heaven made it one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe objective of the trip was to aid in the interior construction of the church that was situated next door to “The Beehive” and was helping to sponsor the Girls’ Home.  But the real ministry of the trip was to be Christ’s Presence to the precious girls that lived there in The Beehive.  As short-term missions go, it was supposed to be some construction, with lots of incarnation!

We would wake early each morning at the local hotel, put on our work clothes, and walk down the street to The Beehive, where the House Mom (one of the local ladies who herself lived at the Girls’ Home to be the girls’ primary caregiver) had prepared a hearty Colombian breakfast for the 12 girls that lived in the home as well as for the 12 members of our missions team.

We would share breakfast with the girls, then they would rush off for their day at school, while we would go next door and begin the day’s construction projects in the church building.  We primed and painted walls, ran tons of electrical wire for light fixtures and outlets, spackled on finishing cement, cut and hung new ceiling tiles, etc.

At lunch, we would eat at The Beehive…  although their was no buzz there as the girls were all away at school…  It was sadly quiet.  I remember there was a little TV, and the World Cup was on that summer…

Back to work, and we would continue to paint and mix and pull and spackle and cut and… then around 3:30pm, the buzz of children’s voices could be heard in the streets.  School was out, and 12 girls were returning to The Beehive!  (along with hundreds of other kids to their respective homes)

As you could guess, our team’s construction work didn’t last long past 3:30 each day…  the happy sounds of 12 princesses drew our team next door each day to sing and play games and dance and read stories and paint fingernails and build furniture forts and do all the other things that a house full of children loves to do.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring these afternoons after work each day, time just seemed to stand still.  Our team was there, and the girls were there.  And that was it.  There was just this sense of here-ness.  Of presence.  Of the moment being… full.  Complete.  Whole.  We were all fully experiencing the same NOW, together, and time just didn’t seem to matter at all.

We forgot all about paint and wire and spackle.  The girls forgot about division and spelling and history.  For a few hours each afternoon, there was no history.  There was no future.  It seemed there were no moments at all besides the ones we were experiencing together right then.

Have you ever been 100% in the moment So fully alive, completely present, wholly ‘there’ – mentally, physically, emotionally – in the experience?  So absorbed in the ‘now’ that all other moments almost vanish from existence?

Dianna bride faceMy wedding day was one of those moments.  I can still see it – in a slow-motion freeze frame.  I was so there in every respect.  I drank in every second of the ceremony – every face in the crowd, every cloud in the sky, the warmth of the candles…  and my bride-to-be: WOW! every strand of hair, every eyelash, her lips, her eyes, her figure in that beautiful dress, her bare feet, her elegance, her beauty, the touch of her fingertips in my hand, the sound of her voice pledging herself to me, our kiss, her perfection…

It was as if all past and future moments were suspended by the enormity of this present one – our now.

In Bogota, our mission team’s afternoons at the Girls’ Home had a similar sense of supernatural now-ness: a whirlwind of music and jump ropes and Spanglish and dancing – overflowing with love and security and appreciation and happiness.  Those surreal afternoons were beautiful.

To me, these experiences are a taste of things to come in eternity.  It is like those were the only moments that ever truly existed, and in that ‘eternal now’, I was truly loved, genuinely valued, fully welcomed, entirely appreciated.

How will we experience the concept of ‘forever’ in Heaven?  What will life be like when it is no longer governed by the dictator of time?  In eternity, does one anticipate the future?  Dwell on the past?  With no appointments to keep.  No alarms going off, telling you it’s time to run off to next thing on the calendar.  Just fully, completely, wholly present in the now.  And that ‘now’ is saturated with feelings of love, value, gladness, security – in the ubiquitous Presence of the One who is the total embodiment of all such incomparable realities.

Heaven is going to be awesome.  Eternity cannot contain itself!  It will ooze out at the seams in all of its grandeur.  And we will drink it all in, with every cell of our glorified bodies fully alive and present and attentive to the moment.  That ‘moment’ known as ‘eternity’.  Our ‘Eternal Now’.

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