“…I know you’re looking down on us from Heaven, like so many we have lost along the way…” This line from a Mariah Carey song came to mind recently, when a friend asked me in an email about my perspective on Heaven.
My friend’s father died recently, and his young son asked him if Grandpa is now an angel, and will he guard over him for the rest of his life. The friend thought I might be able to give him some insights as to how to answer such a question. The song came to mind because the lyrics seem to follow the same thread; that when we die, we become angels, or, at least, we are assigned to spend our heavenly time watching over our loved ones on earth.
This inquiry sparked an intense Bible study. I did not want to mislead my friend or his young son, so I searched for God’s perspective on Heaven. I thought wistfully about my two sets of parents who have long since gone on to Heaven. I chuckled as I thought about them watching me stumble and sin my way through life. I cannot see how that would be a heavenly experience for them!
Likewise, I cannot imagine being in Heaven with the heavy weight of sympathy and angst for those left behind, still at the mercy of their sinful human nature. Imagine the helplessness of knowing when a loved one is headed for disaster and not being able to even warn them. God promises that there will be no pain, emotional or otherwise, in Heaven. We will not hunger or thirst or have want or need of anything, ever again. So, why would He place us in such a desperate position?
Jesus tells us to come to Him, we who are heavy laden, and He will give rest. I believe Heaven is a place of complete rest from our work and earthly labors. The Bible tells us there will be no day or night, no worry or fear. The light of Christ will be all the light we need. We will only rest and praise the Triune God forever.
The Bible tells us that the angels to act as God’s agents; as guardians, as mediators, messengers, etc. Hebrews 1:14 asks, “Are not all angels ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” The angels are created for such service, and armed with the power to achieve whatever goal God assigns them. They sometimes warn us, re-direct us away from danger, bring us messages from God, and serve us in uncountable ways on a daily basis.
I advised my friend that I would tell the child that the Bible doesn’t appear to say that we become angels when we die, but it does say that we, who believe in Jesus Christ and have received His free gift of eternal life, go to be with Him in Heaven when we die, with no pain, never to die again. The Bible tells us that God has created more angels than we could count to guide and help us here on earth.
I told my friend that, whether or not my parents can see me from Heaven, I pledged to live my life in a way that would not dishonor their memory, and that I would use the life lessons they taught me to strive to be the best I can be at all times. It is more important that we reflect the good we received from those who have gone before us than to be concerned with whether or not they are watching us now. That’s the angels’ job!