Pumpkindoodle tilted her chin upward, but the corners of her rosebud pink lips drifted downward. Something was troubling my reflective daughter.
“What is it sweetie?”
“Can you please tell me more about Heaven? I don’t want to be dead and live anywhere without you and Daddy. I’m scared”
Quietly exhaling, I sat still with her on my lap. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I kissed her worried, wrinkled, forehead and said, “Oh Darling, Heaven is the most wonderful place.”
We had discussed Heaven and death a few times already that week, but each question I answered seemed to have left her more unsettled. Four-year-olds want answers that mesh with their immediate realities. Pumpkindoodle cannot clearly fathom the time differences between “next month” and “next year.” She cannot imagine life without her family. She only knows what it is like to be a little girl and that is her yardstick for measuring the future.
“But what kind of skin will I have?”
Oh boy, she goes straight for the unknowns. Why couldn’t she ask me about the streets?
“Well, I am not sure. God will give you a new and wonderful body.”
Her frown deepened.
“I don’t want a new body. I want to keep this body that God already made me in. I love it. It is so beautiful.”
Smiling at her precious innocence and admiration for God’s artistry, I kissed her again, and as I did, I noticed a bandage on her foot.
“Well, your new body will be even more beautiful and it won’t get any boo boos on it ever.
The corner of her mouth rose slightly.
“That is a very good thing. But I’m still not sure I want to go there. Will you go with me?”
“No one knows when they are going to go to Heaven, but I promise you that I will be there someday.”
I decided not to add that I would probably arrive at Jesus’ feet long before she did. That would undoubtedly cause more concern.
“I just really like living here in this beautiful world,” she continued.
“We do live in a beautiful world. God made it so. But people made it messy in some ways, by doing some ugly things. Heaven, will be perfect. There won’t be any mean people in Heaven. No monsters. No scary spiders or snakes. In fact, when you get to Heaven, I bet Jesus will let you pet a real lion. And the lion won’t even bite you because only gentle, friendly lions live in Heaven.”
The face of my animal-loving girl gleamed.
“Wow! That will be really wonderful. Can I run with the Cheetah’s too?”
“I think you will. And if so, can I run with you?”
“Do you know what else is great about Heaven? You’ll be able to meet people that lived on Earth before you were born, like my MemMem, and Jesus’ mommy.”
Suddenly, my marathon talker was silent, her smile radiant.
“And do you want to know the very best part about Heaven? It’s that you get to hug Jesus.”
“Ohhhh, mommy. That is going to be so awesome and so amazing!”
Then her smile wavered. I bit my lip and thought, I cannot possibly top hugging Jesus. What on earth is bothering her now?
“I don’t have to die and go to Heaven now….right Mommy? It will be a long time when I go to be with Jesus right?”
“I think so sweetie.” Oh Lord, let it be so, please let it be so. “But whenever you get there, I promise you that you will not feel sad for one second. You will be very safe. All you will feel is love.”
“That’s wonderful, Mommy. Thank you for telling me all that great stuff about heaven. I really want to pet a lion without him biting me.”
I hugged her tight and traced my index finger around her tiny freckle, and I kissed her again. And then I felt a tender sensation in my soul. I cannot imagine Heaven being more beautiful than this moment right here, right now. But it will be. Wow. One day, my daughter and I will pet a lion, right after we give Jesus a big bear hug.
The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them. Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens, the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent. Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.
Isaiah 11:6-9 The Message