While I was pregnant with Cayden, I was lucky enough to find a great women’s Bible study, sponsored by MRO. They were very welcoming to me, and as any new friends are, excited to see that I was having a child soon. How difficult it was to say, as my introduction to this group, that ‘Yes, I was expecting, but not it was not exciting or necessarily happy. That instead, it was highly likely that my child was going to die before his birth, or within hours after. By the way, aren’t you glad to meet me?’
Their smiles turned to concern when I voiced my oh-so-desperate prayer request that we be able to greet him alive, and maybe have a few hours to spend with him. And they wrapped their arms and hearts around me, and Cayden, and have stayed with me since.
They were with me at the hospital, during those 9 days in the NICU, bringing food and gifts. They prayed for us, loved on us as much as they could. And as Cayden grew they loved on him so much. They fought over who got to hold him first. They never complained about caring for him so I could go to the study. They treated him like all the other kids, and let him play and sing songs. And they were there for his memorial service, spending hours inflating 250 balloons, so we could have a balloon for each week we had spent with him.
During the year Cayden was 3, the study was on Heaven. Our wonderful Bible study leader, ‘Miss Jackie’ Pegram, planned this wonderful study on the beauties and wonder of our Eternal Home. I found it riveting, so interesting, to see this place brought into vivid focus and rainbows of color. Looking back, it feels like this study was meant for me. It was preparing my heart for the loss of my son. Without this knowledge, I am sure that Cayden’s passing would have been much more difficult, but knowledge is power. Actually, knowledge is peace in this instance.
Miss Jackie is such a wonderful teacher and her lessons brought us all over the Bible. She can explain the most difficult subjects in a way that they just make sense. Many of these notes come from her teaching, or are my take on her explanations. I hope they enlighten you some about Heaven, and please allow for grace in your critique.
Why concern ourselves with Heaven? How do we know it is real? The Bible discusses it again and again. I will share a few things I learned about Heaven, and why I feel certain that Cayden is in a better place.
…our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Phil. 3: 20-21)
Heaven is where our citizenship is, where we belong, and where we will receive new, glorious bodies. But we will not become angels, we will be at home with the angels.
Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. Hebrews 1:14
So much of the beauty of the physical Heaven is found in Revelation 21 (NLT)
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.
God himself dwells with man.
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
There will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain.
5 And the one sitting on the throne (Jesus) said, “Look, I am making everything new!”
We will have new Heavenly bodies!
And then he said to me (John), “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.
We can have confidence that this is truth, for Christ himself tells us through John.
We also see that anyone who is thirsty, (who seeks Christ), and who prevails in their faith until the end, will be there:
To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
Who will not be able to enter Heaven & instead will find eternity in Hell?
8 “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Lets pause for a moment & refresh. How do we get there?
John 3:16 tells us: For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. We need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
John 14:6 repeats this: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Belief in Christ is the only way to get to Heaven.
Now for the description of Heaven, I believe at times it is just too beautiful to put accurately into words:
Then one of the seven angels …said to me, “Come with me! I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
10 So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal.
A city of glass! Sparkling like crystals!
12 The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. 13 There were three gates on each side—east, north, south, and west.
The city is laid out in a square, with three angel-guarded gates on each side, each gate made of a single pearl, and named for a tribe of Israel (the tribes were named after the sons of Jacob).
14 The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles.
My teacher said that based on this square footage, (1,400 miles cubed) if every person who ever lived made it to Heaven, we would each have 75 acres! This is no small city! It is a real, measurable, literal, physical place.
17 Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick (according to the human standard used by the angel).
18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass.
Walls that are 216 feet thick! That is approximately 2/3 the length of a football field, and that is just the outer wall, made of jasper. The city is made of clear, glass-like gold.
19 The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
Beauty is so abundant here, that what we consider rare and precious, they lay their foundations with. We would use gravel and cement, they use gemstones!
21 The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.
Again, what we consider precious, in Heaven is commonplace. Heavenly treasure lies not in precious stones or gold, but they see it in the Lord. Perhaps we too should change our perspective to that and not strive for gold and jewels, which are really just Heavenly building materials.
22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. 25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. 26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city.
Even though there are these glorious pearly gates, they are never closed because there is no fear of night, no fear of evil being allowed to come through the walls. You must be written in the Book of Life (by belief in Christ) in order to enter.
27 Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The physical description continues in Revelation 22
1 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street.
There is a beautiful, clear river flowing through the center of the city streets, coming directly from the throne of God. Living Water, perhaps?
On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
A redeemed Eden, complete and perfect. A tree of life with never ending crops of fruit.
3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. 4 And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.
No more curses, no more sin. No night, no darkness, so no need for lamps or the sun. Heaven has the SON instead!
If you don’t think this sounds like a better place, than our polluted, crime-filled, sickness filled planet, I’m not sure I can help you. I think it is wonderful, and I’m sure Cayden thinks so too. So if you ask me “Don’t you miss him?” Yes, of course I do! But I firmly believe, based on this study we did years ago, that Cayden IS in a better place. A place so beautiful I, in my creativity cannot begin to fathom it. A place even our wildest dreams cannot comprehend. A place where kids who were earthly bound by handicaps run and dance and sing and play. A place I cannot wait to see.
Not so long ago, at church, our worship team was taking a musical segue between praise songs and began playing “Where the Streets Have No Name.” It had been a rough morning emotionally, and I was missing my kid! Suddenly, I was transported to a mini-visit with Cayden, where he was beaconing me to join him as he showed me around this crystal city with golden streets. As the song lingered, I had this lovely vision of our reunion & Cayden saying “I can’t wait to show you around, Mom!” I can’t wait either!
While learning about Heaven, I was inspired to make a bracelet I call the ‘Heaven Bracelet.’ It shows a little of the beauty of Heaven, and serves as a reminder to us to look forward to our eternal home. I sold them for a while, and still have some available, if anyone is interested in purchasing any, please let me know. Each part of the bracelet represents a little piece of Heaven, from the 12 Gates of Pearls, the crystal city with the golden streets, and the 12 gemstone foundations.
If you are interested in going deeper in study on Heaven, I strongly suggest reading the book “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. He goes deep into scripture to answer the most common questions about Heaven & it really helps to see what common ideas are myths and what are truths.