A wonderful place!
“For a place we all dream of going to, it’s remarkable how little we actually know about heaven,” writes editor Alex Tresniowski. “There are no brochures touting its beauty, no travel videos on YouTube, no scenic photos on Facebook. All we have to go on are Biblical descriptions of a vast and shimmering place: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light,” John tells us in Revelation 22.
And, we have the remembrances of people like Crystal McVea, an Oklahoma mother and schoolteacher who was revived after dying in a hospital and now describes her incredible experience in her new book, Waking Up In Heaven.
“I was lucky enough to be Crystal’s co-author, and in our time together I learned so much about courage and faith and, yes, a beautiful place called heaven,” writes Tresniowski. “Recently I sat down with Crystal again to talk about all the surprising things she discovered on her journey.”
In Heaven, there is no such thing as time. “That was one of the first things I learned about heaven—that everything happens at once,” writes Crystal. “There was no sequence of events, no minutes or hours or anything like that. When I closed my eyes in that hospital room and opened them in heaven, I had the sensation that everything just instantaneously washed over me, and yet without any feeling of rushing or urgency.
It’s hard for me to communicate even now because our lives on earth are governed by clocks and schedules, but in heaven there are no schedules. There is only this wonderful, instantaneous sense of knowing and peace and love.”
In Heaven, you discover who you really are. Crystal continues: “You know, as much as we think we know ourselves here on earth, what I learned is that we only know a fraction of all the information about us that there is. And in heaven, there is this instant download of information about yourself, and who you were before your time on earth, and who you will be in eternity. As I say in the book, in heaven we get ‘a far deeper self-awareness than the collection of hopes and fears and dreams and scars’ that defines us on earth. It’s breathtaking.”
In Heaven, you can taste light. “I know this sounds strange, but it’s the best way I can describe how I experienced everything in heaven—it’s like, instead of having five senses, I had five hundred senses. And so you experience everything in a completely new and deeper way than we are used to here. The brilliant brightness that surrounds you, it’s more than just light, it’s something that infuses you, that you experience with all your senses. God’s light is something you not only see but hear and taste and feel and, just, experience with every fiber of your being.”
In Heaven, you are never confused. “This is one of the most amazing truths about heaven, because, looking back, everything I experienced should have absolutely blown me away. But in heaven everything just made sense. There was nothing that confused me or confounded me or left me wondering what was going on.
I mean, it was all beyond human belief and I was absolutely overcome with love for God, but it wasn’t like I was baffled by all these incredible things that were happening. I never felt any need to ask God what was happening. All I felt was the overwhelming need to bow and praise Him.”
In Heaven, you cannot bow. “Well, what I mean is that in heaven we do not have our human forms. We are in our spirit forms. So we don’t have any arms and legs like we have here on earth. So I guess that, yeah, it would be kind of hard to bow without actually having a body. But the thing is, when I became aware that I was in the presence of God, I really did feel an overwhelming urge to bow and throw myself at His feet and just worship Him, and that is sort of what it felt like I did. And so in Waking Up In Heaven, I talk about my ‘complete surrender to His Greatness.’ So you can’t technically bow, but you do feel compelled to turn yourself over to God in every possible way.”
You don’t go to Heaven, you return to heaven. “In heaven, I wasn’t so much meeting God as I was recognizing Him. And in the same way, heaven did not feel like a new and strange place to me, it felt like home. And that is one of the most beautiful truths about heaven—that when you get there it is familiar to you. It is like you are remembering it instead of experiencing it for the first time. In every possible way, heaven feels like home.”
In Heaven, there is no Q&A period. “You may think you have questions for God, but you won’t. In heaven, before you even know it you have all the answers to everything you might have ever thought of asking God. Stuff like, how can you allow such suffering and violence? Instantaneously, you are infused with a beautiful sense of knowing and sureness that God’s plan is absolutely perfect. There is nothing you need to learn about God or heaven once you are there. You will know everything, and you will feel nothing but this indescribable sense of being loved.”
Heaven is almost impossible to describe. “I know this sounds funny because I just wrote a whole book about dying and going to heaven,” writes Crystal, “but I continue to be frustrated by how inadequate human words are to describe it. I mean, I always use words like brilliant and beautiful and amazing, but those are words that we might use to describe a movie or a painting or something.
But heaven is just way, way, way more real and lucid and intense than anything we can experience on earth, so it’s understandable that we don’t really have the words to describe it. All I can do is try to convince you of how utterly magnificent heaven is, and then ask to you take what you’re picturing in your mind and multiply it by a million.”
“The beauty of Crystal McVea’s story,” writes Tresniowski, “is that she is someone we can all relate to – a mom, a schoolteacher, a person who sinned and had self-doubts and struggled through hard times, and a person who, for much of her life, questioned whether God was even real.
But by the time I met Crystal, she knew beyond any possible doubt that God is real, and heaven is real, and heaven is beautiful. And the depth of her faith and love for God—and her belief that you don’t have to die and go to heaven to be with God—is what makes her book, Waking Up In Heaven, such a moving and wonderful testament.
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