This book was a birthday gift and what a treasure! I'm so grateful! I hardly know where to begin; I found material that resonated with me on almost every page.
If Joni had not had her diving accident at 17 which made her a quadrapelegic, she feels she might not have developed her great interest in Heaven. When Steve Estes, her Christian mentor first taught her what the Bible says about Heaven, Joni didn't like the idea of a new heaven and earth without an ocean or seas. Nor did she care for the thought of living in a city. Her preference would be a cliff view overlooking a stormy ocean.
Wanting a new body that worked drew her on, and these many years later, Joni loves the thought of Heaven and dwells on it as often as she can. It has become a desired home that she pines for, and anticipates with great joy.
After answering what's so great about Heaven, the three parts of this book answer a lot more questions, namely under these categories; what will Heaven be like? Will Heaven really feel like home to us? The third part covers the way to get there.
Surely most of us, if not all, have wondered who will we really be in Heaven? Do we turn into angels? Joni shows in this book that we'll have a far better role!
Stereotypes in advertising and cliche jokes give us the impression that being in Heaven is just riding on clouds, playing harps, and lazing around that we can expect, but Joni shows from key Bible passages how we'll enjoy doing some fantastic and wonderful things, including work - though it may not seem like that to us for how gladly we'll serve the Lord we love. There will be food and wine at the wedding feast of Christ and His Bride, the true Church, there will be rewards and crowns, and true worship that is never boring.
You need to read this book for yourself to see what a vivid and playful imagination Joni has about these activities. They just whet my appetite all the more!
From her own candid stories of experiences where she knew she was not meant for this earth, we identify and realize - at least if we love the Lord and look forward to being with Him - that we are citizens of another place, and this earth really isn't where we are meant to be forever.
Furthermore, as our loved ones die and we recognize that they are alive and well in Heaven, and as we suffer many things which draw us closer in love to our Saviour, we know that our treasure is up there, and our longing to join them just grows and grows.
I'm especially moved as Joni helps us - me - to see that it isn't all about us anyway. When we go home to Heaven, it's because we want to be there to see our Lord Jesus Christ crowned and made the King of kings, and Lord of lords. What a desire wells up in my heart to be there to see Him magnified, and to gladly give any crowns or rewards I may receive to Him, for I owe everything to Jesus! What a profound thought; to stop looking forward to Heaven for my own sake, and long to be there for His sake.
On another level, I delighted in Joni's way with words. She quotes others, and I really liked the ones by Peter Kreeft on pages, 148 and 149, from his book on Heaven (I must go find that!) But in her own words defining the difference between pleasure, happiness and joy, I found something worth writing out to repeat to others. Starting at the bottom of page 147.
This is why heaven is more than just a place of pleasure and happiness. If that is so, heaven would be boring. Pleasure is always seeking satisfaction. Happiness is finding satisfaction. But whether reached through pleasure or happiness, there is still something inert about satisfaction. It's a little too "still." That's why joy is satisfaction that is always moving. It bursts beyond pleasure and happiness; it calls for rejoicing out of sheer generosity. It is the real energy of praise. If we are to be praising God for all of eternity, which we shall be, then joy will be the dynamic.
After a fun time of playing tag with some kids in wheelchairs at a JAF Ministries' family retreat, Joni says,
As I laid in bed that night, the entire experience of joyful play kept echoing. The kingdom of heaven belongs to giggling, happy, carefree children.
Ah, that's what Heaven is like, and what we'll do! Now don't forget to read the last part about how you can be sure to get there. Yes! You and I can really truly know for a fact that we'll be there for eternity.