When I was in the third grade my Sunday School teacher asked each member of our class to draw a picture of how we saw Heaven.
probably undoubtedly the best day of Sunday School ever.
Plenty of my classmates when to work drawing beaches and cloud-filled landscapes that resembled the Care Bears “Care-a-lot.”
Honestly, even then I had no desire to spend eternity floating around on brightly colored clouds, so instead I drew the place I felt like I could stay forever and be in complete bliss — Boston Garden.
Well, OK, it wasn’t exactly the Garden, but it was a basketball court, complete with a sweet parquet floor and Jesus throwing down a windmill dunk.
That was third-grade Travis’ view of Heaven.
Over the years my view of Heaven has evolved into something much larger than that one court, though trust me, the court would still be in my picture, as is Jesus’ dunking.
As we approach the beginning of a new year, plenty of folks are putting down on paper what they are looking forward to in the coming 12 months.
I started to do this, wrote down, “write a book,” and “go to the movies with Emma Stone,” and then got distracted (probably by Netflix). I was also eating some KFC grilled chicken at the time, which I highly recommend, and bit down on a chicken bone.
At that moment one single thought smacked me in the face — there’s no way KFC grilled chicken will have bones in Heaven. I mean, chicken bones suck and Heaven is supposed to be perfect, so I just don’t see the two coexisting in any fashion.
This got me to thinking about all the other things that will be great about Heaven and thus, my top 10 things I’m looking forward to in the afterlife.
10. Chickens without bones. — I know I just wrote this, but chicken bones suck. Nothing is worse than digging into a juicy breast and hitting that lone straggling bone. It just ruins the entire wonderful experience that is chicken.
Note: I haven’t forgotten about you fish bones. You suck too and won’t be in Heaven.
9. Clean sheets every night, but you never have to do laundry. — Washing your sheets is awful. You have to take them off, do the whole washing and drying thing, and then somehow get that fitted sheet back on, which at the time, always seems to be the hardest thing in the world to do. There will be none of that in Heaven, yet each night you’ll crawl into a bed that’s warm, clean, and smells of that delicious scent of fabric softener.
8. New socks. — New socks are the clean sheets for your feet, but you only get one shot at these. Somehow the washing machine steals that magical feeling during the first wash and you can never get it back. In Heaven, you’ll get new socks each day.
7. Pre-popped popcorn and Pop-Tarts. — Let’s be real, nothing takes longer on this planet than popping popcorn or heating up a Pop-Tart. In Heaven they will be readily available, always at the perfect temperature, and with no extra kernels and/or burnt portions.
6. Thanksgiving leftovers. — I guess some folks might love the meal itself more, but for me there is nothing better than the leftovers. I have no idea how this works, but I know the Friday after Thanksgiving is an amazing day for me. In Heaven we’ll all have a frig full of Thanksgiving leftovers just waiting for us to make turkey sandwiches using stuffing as the bread.
Note: There are also no calories in Heaven, nor does the feeling of being bloated exist, so eat up.
5. Free arcade games. — How many times did you only play one quarter of NBA Jam because you only had 50 cents? None of that in Heaven. You can play all day, and in fact, you can probably play with some of the dudes who are actually in the game. Also, this will be our chance to finally beat that Simpsons game.
4. Water parks sans lifeguards and/or rules. — You know you want this. You know you want to go down the most dangerous slides, with your three best friends in tow, and with no mat. You can do this in Heaven, and you can do it without fear of any of you not being able to walk out of the water park. Running will be encouraged.
3. The sets from Double Dare, American Gladiators, and Nickelodeon Guts. — In my entire life I’ve only know one person to ever get to experience either picking that giant nose, playing “Assault,” or climbing the Aggro Crag. In Heaven, you can do it all and I believe you’ll even be able to mix it up. I mean, can you imagine trying to climb the Crag while your buddy is aiming that tennis ball gun at you? What about jousting over a pit of slime? Oh, and in Heaven, that giant flag pizza, is actually a giant pizza.
This section of Heaven is going to be packed.
2. The Saints. — There are a lot of people on my list of folks to meet once I get to Heaven, but none is higher than Johnny Cash. Guessing he’ll be the only one up there in black, or at least that’s how it looks in my head. Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, and Pistol Pete Maravich are also on my list of new saints I’d like to chat it up with.
Of course more than the new ones, I want to get back together with the saints I have already met.
I can’t wait to get my Grandpa Williams’ thoughts on Big Papi’s (or Big “Papa” as he always called him) postseason run this year. I can’t wait to talk with my Grandpa Shaffer about that time we watched every game of the 1992 NBA Finals, despite the fact he had not a single interest in basketball. I can’t wait to ask my Uncle Brad if he ever put together that Barack Obama puzzle I got him for Christmas one year. And I also can’t wait to just see what my Grandma Williams has been up to all these years up there and then try to talk her into making me waffles.
Of course, that’s just the short list. There’s a ton of folks I can’t wait to hang out with again, so it’s a good thing we’ll have some time on our hands.
1. Jesus — On the surface, this is the easy knee-jerk answer, but have you ever really thought about what it will be like to actually meet Jesus? For a lot of us, so many of our life decisions are based off him and his life, yet we have no idea what his voice actually sounds like. What if it’s all real high pitched and squeaky? I feel like that would be weird and I have no idea why.
Truth be told, I’m pretty sure at first meeting, none of us will really be able to do much more than fall down and worship Jesus. That will be amazing, but I don’t lie to you here, so I’ll just be honest and say I hope at some point I actually get up the guts to have a conversation with him. And by conversation, I mean me asking him a bizillion questions about creating the Earth, his time here, and what happened afterwards.
Of course, I also want to know a lot of stupid things, so you might not want to hang around for that part of my Q&A if you’re up there.
I want to know what the feeding of the 5,000 looked like. Was it like sandwiches that just kept popping out of a basket or did he like just keep shooting loaves out of the sleeves of his robe?
I want to know how tall Zacchaeus really was. I want to know what he drew in the sand when the adulterous woman was being accused. I want to know what he did as a kid growing up and if that story about him bringing that dead bird back to life has any real merit.
Basically, I just want to hang out with Jesus the same way I hang out with the rest of the people I love, and in a tree house if possible, just because hanging out always seems cooler in one of those.
So, that’s a little glimpse at what I’m looking forward to, a little glimpse at what my day dreaming of Heaven has led me to hope for.
Am I right about this stuff? Who knows.
I doubt someone as ridiculous and simply minded as myself has anywhere close to the ability required to actually comprehend Heaven, but it’s fun to try.
New Year’s is all about looking ahead, dreaming big dreams, and promising ourselves to pursue those dreams with reckless abandon throughout the coming year.
But as good, or as bad, as the coming year will be, it won’t be anything compared to further on down the road, so we should never forget to also be pursuing that.