In chapter 13 of his book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn makes an interesting case for the possible future restoration of man-made objects from throughout human history. The exegetical evidence includes passages concerning the testing of believers’ works (1 Cor. 13:12-15) and the eternal value of good deeds (Rev 14:13), together with the linguistic implications of a particular prayer of Moses (Psalm 90:17). I didn’t find any of this terribly compelling, but neither do I think he meant it to be conclusive.
The more I consider it, however, the more I find some of his logical/imaginative case pretty intriguing.
Alcorn points out the the earth will be renewed, and bodies will be resurrected, and that these are both physical things that God made and values. Mightn’t he then also resurrect and restore man-made objects that particularly touched his heart, spoke of a special relationship, or commemorated an important event?
Let’s use our biblically informed imaginations. Could a child’s story written out of love for Jesus survive this world, either in Heaven’s handwriting or the child’s own? Might certain works of art, literature, and music survive either literally (on the canvas and paper they were written on) or at least be re-created in Heaven? Obviously we can’t be certain, but isn’t the idea consistent with what we’ve seen of the nature of resurrection?
…Are they not as much a part of God’s “very good” creation as our bodies, and animals, lakes, and trees? What about the things we made to God’s glory? Could these be resurrected or reassembled? (Alcorn, pg. 129)
Old Testament altars and stones of commemoration come to mind here. Could some of these be part of the landscape of the new earth? Will God decorate the eternal home he intends to share with us with sentimental objects that hold great meaning for him and for us?
For years Jesse (dear husband) has used the illustration of refrigerator art to describe God’s regard for our acts of love, worship, and service toward him. God likely cherishes our offerings the same way I cherish and display a badly distorted stick figure offered to me by one of my children. The result of the child’s earnest effort isn’t all that remarkable in and of itself, yet the drawing is sweet, beautiful, and precious because of the heart it represents.
I am used to thinking of my efforts this way, and it is helpful when (as is all too often the case) I find their outcome to be a little on the pathetic side.
I am also used to thinking about the permanence of my deeds, in the sense that what I choose to do (or not do) in the present has eternal ramifications.
But Alcorn’s hint at the possible literal resurrection of select inanimate objects has added a new dimension to my meditations on eternal value.
I found immediate application to the words I write on this blog.
I am newly challenged to write with such purity and integrity of motive, such passion for God, and such genuine love for readers, that my written words would be the sort of thing God would be pleased and touched to display as precious expression of my heart for him—that they could be written somewhere in heaven as a physical, eternal commemoration of the love between us.
Whether or not God will do such a thing isn’t all that important (though it is a cool and interesting thought). It’s just a good way to approach the things I put my hands to.
Am I giving my heart to this in a way that the product might be meaningful to God—as a keepsake that speaks of our relationship?
As I craft this misshapen stick-figure, is it with great care as a gift of love for my Father, or is it a hasty scribble I made with little thought for him at all?
Daddy sees my heart. Who knows what he might want to hang on to…