Okay, I’m going to say it now, and I want you to think about it. Are you ready?
The whole idea of family, in the way we experience it on earth, is only temporary.
There is a day coming when the concept of family will be swept up into a more glorious and satisfying arrangement. Don’t let that make you nervous. What awaits us is far more magnificent.
One day the Sadducees tried to trick Jesus with a question about heaven. Jesus answered, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matt. 22:30).
Jesus is not saying that because marriage isn’t eternal, it’s time to toss it on the trash heap. No, He’s telling us that something even better awaits.
In heaven there will be one glorious marriage between Christ and His bride, and that marriage will satisfy and complete every desire we’ve had for marriage on this earth.
In fact, the eternal marriage between Christ and the church is the very point for which marriage in this life exists.
Marriage on earth is a picture of that eternal reality. It mirrors a higher purpose.
Paul explains, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:31–32).
In glory you will experience delight that far outweighs what you’ve experienced here and now.
If your spouse is there, it’s hardly a stretch to think you’ll experience heavenly delight in Christ along with your spouse—the one you’ve delighted in most in this life.
Being in heaven with your spouse will not be glorious because you go on being their mate; being in heaven will be glorious because together you will behold face-to-face the One to whom your marriage pointed.
In Pittsburgh, where I grew up, there is a beloved amusement park called Kennywood.
Back in the day, yellow Kennywood signs all around the ’Burgh pointed in the direction of what we believed to be the ultimate amusement experience—cotton candy, caramel apples, delicious treats.
Oh, and did I mention the roller coaster that would stop your heart and expel the candy you had just gobbled straight onto the coaster tracks? Throwing up at Kennywood was a rite of passage, something to boast about in English class on Monday.
The Kennywood signs pointed people in the direction of our deep desires for amusement park pleasure, but the signs were not the reality.
Just imagine some poor kid sitting under a Kennywood sign, thinking that where he sat was all there was to Kennywood. He’d be pretty misguided, wouldn’t you say?
The sign, of course, served another purpose. It pointed forward to something else—something that would fill that child with unexpected joys.
When sinners say “I do” in this life, they become signposts pointing to the relationship with the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
Once we arrive in heaven, the signs are no longer necessary. They are caught up into something more amazing than any amusement park—the marriage of Christ and the church.
A Greater Reality
What’s true of marriage is true of family. Earthly families will be swept up into a greater reality—the body of Christ.
This is not to say our believing family members will become strangers in the new earth. “Do I know you? You look vaguely familiar. Were we friends on Facebook?”
Rather, as Rob Plummer writes, “If our children stand beside us in eternity, it will not be as our children but as our blood-redeemed brothers and sisters.”
It’s not so much that we lose our old family but that we gain a new family—a larger eternal one.
Right now family serves an earthly purpose. But the day will come when it will be transformed into a glorious experience that is multiplied and magnified by the larger family to which we are united.
As Randy Alcorn has said, “God usually doesn’t replace His original creation, but when He does, He replaces it with something that is far better, never worse.”
Many people have horrible experiences with their families.
If the whole concept of family calls to mind brokenness and pain, memories that elicit deep shame, or something from which you had to flee, please know that what God is preparing for you is not simply a family reboot. Rather, it’s what family should have been all along—only more glorious.
Your next home will be led by a perfect Father and occupied by new brothers and sisters who have shed the scales of sin.
There is a future awaiting you where the memories of grief will pass.
My prayer is that the idea of having your broken family swept up into a new church family—even in this life—will be joyful news for you. And I pray that as you walk in community with God’s people, you’ll find hope in the Father of love, who longs to one day bring you into a new home where you will no longer know suffering or pain.
This article was originally published on the blog of Ann Voskamp.