Elizabeth of the Trinity tells us that Heaven is where God is, and God dwells within us. However, it seems many people are sitting around waiting to die to start living. If so, then maybe some thoughts on how to live Heaven now is merited.
First, what is Heaven? It is a place of peace. How can we have peace in our uncertain world? Conceptually, it isn’t hard to attain because Biblical peace has to do with right relationship with God. Right relationship with God requires conversion and a life lived with a belief in Jesus and all he taught. I said this is conceptually not too hard because conversion is difficult, and so, too, is maintaining peace in a world that always seems to be attacking our sense of peace.
However, when one trusts that God only allows bad things to happen so that he can bring about right relationship and conversion, maybe finding peace in this world seems somewhat more achievable. One of my favorite spiritual authors says God has an art of bringing good out of evil. Maybe one way to live Heaven now is in humbly accepting the crosses that come our way by saying something like, “God, I look forward to seeing what masterpiece you will paint with this hurt and pain. I look forward to seeing how you perfect my faith, hope, and love through these trials.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean we cannot pray that God take evil out of our lives. Jesus, while in the Garden, prayed that the cross be taken from him. When the Father, whose ways are beyond us, chose not to remove the cross, the world was redeemed. If spirituality is about following Jesus, then there is nothing wrong with praying for crosses to be removed. We just need to remember that if he doesn’t, then it has a purpose in bringing us closer to him.
Second, living in Heaven is living in union with God who is love. When we look at the person of Jesus to see what this love looks like, we see a love that is not only self-giving, but selfless. How can we be in union with God if we have not worked to shed our own selfishness and pride? In addition to accepting the crosses that come our way, we can also make choices in how we live our day to day lives that help us die to self. We can become, in him, selfless people who live a life of self-giving love in the world today.
No, living Heaven now by cultivating peace and perfecting charity is not an easy task. It is something that most, if not all of us, will fight to do for our entire lives. Regardless, this is the path for those who believe in Jesus. This is living according to his teaching because discipleship mandates this path of dying to self and carrying crosses. Mk 8:34.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit analyzing your own view of Heaven. Ask him how you can live more fully, even if imperfectly, in Heaven in this space and time. Ask him how you can live a peaceful life amid all of the distractions in this world, and how you can better keep your eyes on the long-term goal of perfect perfection through all the challenges and blessings that fill your life. Ask him to either remove your crosses or to be your Simon, as is necessary for your own perfection. Ask him to be your strength in weakness as you learn to better cooperate with grace in this process of becoming one with Him.