"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
--Jesus tells his disciplines, according to John 14:1-4
Today my 3 1/2-year-old girl asked me how Jesus takes us to heaven. She wanted to know how we get there and where heaven is. And she wanted black-and-white answers that don't really come with faith, which is being sure of what we hope for.
And I hope for heaven. God promises heaven to those who choose to follow Him.
So that's where I started. God must have been preparing her little heart for the conversation because the verse she has been learning at school is "Follow God," or some paraphrase along those lines. Today she even remembered it well enough to get to pick a treat from the treasure chest.
I told her we go to heaven when we die because that's where Jesus lives and God promises us we can live forever there if we just follow Him.
"I know, Mommy. We do follow God."
Talk about childlike faith. But that's not what was on her mind.
So instead she asks, "But how does Jesus take us to heaven?"
Um, truthfully, I had no idea what to tell her. So I went back to a conversation we'd had Saturday when we drove passed the cemetery that is about two blocks from our house yet she'd never asked about. "What are all those little buildings there?" she asked two days ago as we drove passed the cemetery.
I told her they were markers were people's bodies were buried. Like Granddaddy's body is in a different cemetery with a marker that has his name on it. Then she reminded me Granddaddy was in heaven with Jesus. And that's where the conversation got complicated.
"Yes, Granddaddy is in heaven. His heart and soul are living with Jesus forever, but our bodies stay here on Earth."
And then she told me when she got older she'd die too. I reassured her that it wouldn't be for a long time and that God wanted to her to love her life here for now.
So back to today ...
I reminded her that God lives in our hearts and our hearts ["souls" seems even more abstract to me ...] go to live with Jesus when we die.
"I know, Mommy. Where is heaven?" I detected the frustration in her voice that I wasn't giving her specific directions to how to get to heaven. So I just go with, "It's far away from here, but it's going to be the best place we'll ever be."
"Is it high up in the clouds?" Again, she wants directions, like how she talks about turning right onto Main Street to get to school. Having no black-and-white answers, I told her yes.
"How do we get there?" I think she wanted me to say we fly, like we did to get to New Zealand. Or we take a bus, like Granddaddy used to drive. Or we drive a long, long way. Instead I just went back to how the conversation got started: "Jesus takes us there."
That seemed to be good enough. But the silence was only her mind still working, thinking about heaven. "Will there be toys there?"
I am certain of what I hope for. And I hope for heaven. So I told my 3 1/2-year-old girl that there would be toys in heaven.
When she's older, I'll tell her about why I don't really think we'll care about toys when we get there. I believe we'll be so in awe of living with the Creator of the world that we'll be too distracted by a beauty that won't even compare to anything we've ever seen to even care about what we used to do.