You will never confuse me as being the guy who has it all figured out.
I do spend a lot of time thinking about things. But in the end, my answer often is that I just don’t know.
For example, Wendy and I were wandering around Las Vegas on a vacation not long ago, getting our 10,000 steps in. I became distracted by the heaven/hell and Old Testament/New Testament dichotomies I noticed everywhere I looked.
For some, Vegas is as close to heaven as we will ever see on earth. Visitors to “The Strip” are smiling, friendly, and full of love. Their labors are behind them. They’re on vacation.
Strangers talk to strangers, volunteer to take pictures for other people, and leave big tips.
Isn’t that what heaven is supposed to be like, an eternal vacation? Won’t getting a nod from St. Peter at the Pearly Gates like hitting the ultimate big one on a slot machine?
I pondered this while walking on a sidewalk that appeared to be paved in gold.
Yes, that could be heaven. It’s a place where everyone should be smiling and glad to see each other, unless you’re from one of those religions that delight from being saved mainly because others are not.
So that’s one thing I noticed.
But just across the street, there’s another sort of Las Vegas where the street people are. Many of them, I suppose, are drug addicts, disturbed emotionally or mentally (or both). Some had detailed signs telling us just how depressed they are.
One person sat with her head down with a sign that said, “Homeless and pregnant.” In case you weren’t reading, she was rubbing her over-sized belly.
If New is your favorite Testament, maybe this is the heaven. Aren’t these the poor in spirit that Jesus blessed in his Sermon on the Mount? If so, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Maybe there’s an Old Testament heaven, where everyone seems rich and happy, and a New Testament heaven. That’s where, as Jesus was quoted by apostle Matthew, the blessings are heaped on the poor in spirit, the mourners, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the persecuted and all those others who suffer.
Some of us might prefer the new to the old.
Recently, one of my college students talked about how she didn’t necessarily think that heaven sounds like a good place to hang out for eternity. Is our time there to be spent in constant praise of Our Maker? While we’re doing that, will we be aware and jealous that others nearby are playing blackjack and hearing the ding-ding-ding of a winning slot?
It’s a familiar thought. I recalled the Thursday nights of my early teens, taking my piano lessons from Old Miss Stetson while classmates were at the junior-high dances at Coquillard or at home watching “The Munsters” on TV.
Which is my future?
I might like it better if heaven is complicated, like Las Vegas. Maybe it’s a place where the poor in spirit get some coins tossed into their buckets from others who walk the street in love and joy, on an eternal vacation.
Can that be how it is? I’m still doing some figuring, but I just don’t know.