To answer their questions about death, about heaven, about God.
Even at the age of 3.
Caroline has known for quite some time that when people die, they go to heaven to be with Jesus. I watch comfort wash over her at that thought.
But it's not the end of the story, is it? Because those who are believers know the ending is even MORE glorious and wonderful than heaven. So Marc broke the news a few months ago around our dinner table.
"You know what, Caroline? SOMEDAY HEAVEN IS GOING TO COME DOWN HERE TO EARTH!"
Caroline's gasp of excitement could have been heard across the street, I'm sure. Her eyes practically popped out of her head. "REEEEEEAAAALLLLY???? Oh my word!" she said, in typical Caroline fashion. :)
"Yes! Isn't that wonderful? Someday heaven is going to come down here to Earth and everything that is sad right now won't be sad anymore. Everything that is broken will be fixed, and everything that hurts won't hurt anymore."
It was as if you'd given the kid the largest pile of candy imaginable. (Oh, if only I longed for the resurrection with such excitement and such anticipation!)
"When is it gonna happen, Daddy? When is heaven going to come down here?"
"We don't know when. Only Jesus knows when he's coming back. But when he does, heaven and earth will be one!"
That dinnertime topic launched into lots more discussion over the next several weeks, as you can imagine, but it was all bathed in a beautiful expectation of the day when everything would be made right again.
One morning recently, sweet Caroline started talking to me from the other room about the new heavens & the new earth. She had no idea I sprinted to find a pen & paper so I could transcribe her words as she was speaking.
And here's what she said:
"Mama, when heaven comes down here no one will die!
And Papa can see!
And no one else will be blind.
When heaven comes down to earth, no sharks will bite.
And we can pet them and we can feel how soft they are.
Jellyfish will not sting us.
Alligators and crocodiles will not bite us.
We can pet them and talk to them.
And even whisper to them.
Snakes will not bite; we can play with them
and throw them up in the air!
One day Tuggie will come and see Nanny.
And when heaven comes down here, heaven will stay here ALL day.
Heaven doesn't get even night or day.
It's beautiful, too."
Now, I don't know if it's just me, but that brings tears to my eyes. Not just because it's a sweet sentiment from my (now) 4 year old. But the truth of it. The longing for it.
Lent is a season of waiting in the Christian calendar. We long for the day when we'll celebrate Jesus's resurrection (aka Easter), but even more importantly, it reminds us that we are always waiting for an even larger day of Resurrection. A day when a Savior will return again to fulfill his promises, and return the creation to all of its glory.
Maybe my daughter is longing for things like petting sharks and whispering to crocodiles, but my heart finds solace in longing for other things:
When heaven comes down here, no one will die.
Aches and pains will be no more.
And relationships will not wax and wane.
Exercise will be purely for enjoyment, and not in the quest for a longer life.
I will know with certainty that I am loved and never question it.
Food will be good tasting AND good for you, and it won't be a source of self-righteousness anymore.
I will no longer battle the loneliness, the ups and downs, the jealousy, the hurt.
People will be honest and genuine, no longer hiding behind masks and false words.
Worship will not feel fake or "mustered up," but will flow forth naturally.
The church will join together in complete unity, and my heart won't always long for something better.
I will be reunited with loved ones who have gone before, whom I miss so much.
Never again will I be gripped with fear so intense it feels like I can't breathe.
Everything will work as it's supposed to work.
And my heart will be content.
And filled with joy unmeasurable.
And with that, I say- Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5