Fear of Heaven

We conquer a fear of heaven’s perceived disappointments through childlike wonder.

What comes into your mind when you think of eternity in heaven? If you are a Christian, you probably feel hope or excitement. But have you ever had apprehensions about heaven? I confess that I have. 

I know I’ll make it in: my salvation rests solely on Jesus and nothing else. Instead, I fear eternity. Eternity is so, well, endless and inescapable. The idea of eternity is foreign to our mortal minds. Seasons come; seasons go. People are born; people die. The curtain will fall on everything and everyone. (Unless it’s a government program—just kidding, just kidding!)

But when I seriously contemplate eternity in heaven, fear is intermingled with joy and longing. At first, I thought my fear stemmed from a lack of comprehension because I often fear the unknown. Accordingly, I fear eternity in heaven in part because that idea is beyond my comprehension. 

But that fear fails to paint the whole picture. I fear eternity in heaven because of some deep and ingrained fear that heaven will disappoint. 

My economics teacher taught me about a concept called the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. This economic law says that “all else being equal, as consumption increases, the satisfaction derived from each additional unit decreases.” To illustrate, your first bite of chocolate cake might taste delicious. However, your initial satisfaction tends to wane with each bite. One piece of chocolate cake might be enough, but an entire cake would make you sick (not to mention increasing your waistline).

I am afraid that heaven’s joys will be marginal and monotonous. I fear that I will delight in them for the first millennium but that they will increasingly lose their pleasure until I am stuck with the pale, worn-out shadows of joy for all eternity.

My mind is so limited that I fail to comprehend how something will be eternally delightful. Here on earth, we all lose that boundless childhood wonder and delight. Some people retain that awe better than others, but to a degree, we become deadened to the innocent joy in nature and the things around us. Upon reflecting on our fading childlike wonder, the great English poet William Wordsworth mourned, “Wither is fled the visionary gleam? / Where is it now, the glory and the dream?” 

In heaven, God will eternally restore that glory, that dream. 

C.S. Lewis clearly illustrates the increasing, everlasting joys we will experience in heaven. In his book The Last Battle, the Pevensie children and their friends have come to Narnia’s heaven. Throughout the past six books, they have conquered evil and restored good,experiencing magic and hope, wonder and adventure. The grand exploits of this high fantasy are so compelling the reader cannot help but long to play a part in this incredible narrative. However,Lewis writes that all the children’s past adventures “had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Heaven is not bound by the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility, and neither will we be. 

What we perceive of the monotony of heaven, if it can even be called monotony, will be a monotony of the best kind. When reflecting upon the vitality and joy of childhood in his book Orthodoxy, the writer and apologist G.K. Chesterton compared a child exuding in repetition to God delighting in steadfastness. “God is strong enough to exult in monotony,” said Chesterton.“It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon”—for the sheer joy of it. “It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” When we reach heaven, we will reclaim that right and righteous sense of wonder like the little children Jesus commanded us to model in Matthew 18:3.

So, as I refocus on life here on earth, I ask for forgiveness for this lack of faith, this disbelief that God’s goodness will sustain me throughout eternity. I ask for strength to delight in repeating small tasks knowing they foreshadow the daily delights of heaven. And I carry as my banner Psalm 16:11 which reminds me that “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasure for evermore.”

Written by Olivia Summers

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