Before Michael passed away I think I just assumed that people in heaven probably didn’t really keep up with what was happening on earth. I think mostly I hadn’t given it too much thought. I mean, after all, there would be no more mourning or sadness, so they must just be in some sort of divinely ignorant state of not knowing what we were doing, right?
But in the last months, the kids and I have had several discussions wondering about this and I’ve done some reading to try to understand what the truth on this subject is. And I think I’ve changed my mind.
There are of course many references to heaven in the bible (though, by count, I think there are more references to hell). As I set out to read through some of the passages I discovered several things. First, all those references I remember about there being no more tears or pain or crying refer to the “new” heaven — the eternal heaven that will come one day when Jesus returns again and takes His place of rule on earth. But that heaven isn’t here yet, and that heaven isn’t where Michael is right now.
The present heaven is where Michael is right now and there are actually fewer details about that heaven in the Bible. But I think I have been able to understand a few things. First, the present heaven is a real place. When God gave directions in the Old Testament for the tabernacle to be built, He said it was to be a copy of the real tabernacle which is in heaven. So heaven is a real physical place with real physical things there.
The other things I’ve learned about the present heaven come mainly from two passages – the parable Jesus tells about Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16 and the account of the martyrs in Revelation 6. In both of these passages, we see people in heaven that are conscious of their surroundings. They are in communication with God and each other and they are aware of things happening on earth. The martyrs can see that their deaths have not yet been avenged. And they are even crying out because of it, an indication that they are aware of the state of things on earth.
This has made me change my thinking about what Michael, and others in heaven, are aware of. I now feel more confident that they are aware of what’s happening in our lives here. Which means that when Andrew preaches, I believe Michael is watching and listening and very proud. And when Emily graduates next week I believe he’ll be grinning from ear to ear and cheering from the best seat in the house. Does this mean that he sees and knows everything all the time? Probably not, and I’m not sure how all that works out. After all, he’s in the presence of God so I think that gives him a better understanding of things, but that doesn’t make him God.
It gives me comfort to know he’s watching. I want him to see how wonderful the kids are. I want him to hear us laughing at the memories we have of him and our family times together. I want him to see one day when we have grandkids.
I also do think that those in heaven probably have a fuller understanding of some things than we do here on earth. This is especially healing for me. You see, when my dad died last May, he died angry with me. He was very upset with some decisions I made regarding his care and thought that I was trying to hurt him and take advantage of him. I am hopeful that now, whether by fuller revelation or by being able to ask God in person, he understands that there was no attempt to hurt him or steal from him, but only to protect and help him. And with that new understanding I’m sure that there are no longer any hard feelings between us.
One last thing, while I do feel confident that believers in heaven are aware of what’s happening here, there’s no indication in these passages that they are able to communicate with us. In fact, the rich man who goes to hell in Luke 16 is told specifically that his family still alive on earth cannot be warned of his end by someone from the dead. Just a thought for Teresa Caputo, John Edward and others who make such claims. I’d love to know what you think …
P.S. I highly recommend the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It does a great job looking at both the present heaven and the eternal heaven to come.