I feel like I got a little glimpse of heaven today. In a real way, not in a "Is that a giant closet twice the size of Oprah's filled with free clothes and shoes all for me?" heaven kind of way. It wasn't tangible in a physical sense, and I'm sure it's going to be really hard to explain in words what I felt.
I didn't see streets paved with gold or hear angels singing. But I felt like I just got a little step closer (a tiny, tiny step compared to all there is to know) to understanding what heaven is. Being in total communion with God, and with all Christians. I am a separate person, and lay down my own life to be used by God, but it doesn't diminish me, it fills me with strength and joy. I am just one person along with many others, but that makes me more significant and we are all together a part of something amazing.
We are built to long for heaven. To long for complete communion with our creator. It is why here on earth we long for acceptance, to be part of something. It is why we come away from worship or fellowship feeling all warm and fuzzy and uplifted. Because we were designed for it. And every time we get a tiny hint of what it feels like to be in perfect harmony and unity with God, or with others - for even those who don't believe in God will know the feeling, - our souls recognise it.
And on the other side of this, realising just a tiny bit more clearly what heaven is, I also realised what hell is. It's not about a pit of fire with demons jabbing you with red pitchforks. It's not even about some sort of eternal physical tourture and pain. It's the opposite to heaven - complete and utter separation from God.
I think we get caught up in questions about heaven and hell in wondering about their physical place, imagining heaven as a place in the sky, hell below us, as some places we just move to when we're not on earth any more. And heaven will be really pretty and happy, and hell all dark and firey. We think of it in very earthly terms, according to what we find pleasurable and painful here on earth.
But I think because it is difficult for us to comprehend, often we don't make it past those surface thoughts to really get what heaven and hell are. More than just an arbitrary reward or punishment for being good or bad, it is the outcome of the purpose we were created for.
We were created by God, designed to be with Him. If we reject him, we miss out on that. That is heaven and hell. Either being completely with God, or completely without Him. And I don't think we fully comprehend how that will either be far better than any feeling we've ever had on earth, or it will be far worse than any pit of fire or physical pain.
I'm sure my words don't really describe at all the understanding I had in that moment, and it's one of those glimpses that was so clear and real at the time, then quickly fades when you try to remember it. It will always be the way while we live here in our earthly bodies. But that doesn't mean we stop seeking.