Golf in Heaven?Christians talk about that wonderful place called heaven, but when it comes to thinking about going there, most of us would rather stay on familiar ground a while longer.
For centuries, theologians have debated topics such as predestination, existentialism, ecclesiology and other words I can't spell. When they get home after a long day of doing this, their children ask them more practical questions such as: "How can I get ink out of your Sunday shirt, Daddy?" or "Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?"
Would we really choose a place that reeks of suffering and death … over the paradise God is preparing?
Questions. We all have them, don't we?
I've seen some pretty funny bumper stickers lately. "If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher," "I Fish, Therefore I Lie" and "God Answers Kneemail!" Another one caught my eye recently. It says: "If there's no golf in heaven, then I'm not going!"
What comes to mind when you think of heaven?
I was golfing with a pastor one day, and the subject shifted to the next world. "So," he asked somewhat reluctantly, "do you think there will be golf in heaven?" I was lining up an eight-foot putt at the time, and the question did little to aid my concentration. After missing the hole quite badly, I told him the joke about the angel who suddenly appeared to a man who was golfing at a beautiful golf course called Pebble Beach.
The angel said: "I can answer any question you want, so go ahead and ask."
The man thought for a moment, "Are there golf courses in heaven?"
The angel replied: "Do you want the good news or the bad news first?"
The man shrugged. "The good news."
So the angel told him: "The courses in heaven are so beautiful I can scarcely describe them. There is no cost to play on them, and you have your choice of golf clubs. Beverages and electric carts are provided free of charge. All the balls miraculously float on the water so you'll never lose them, and all your shots go straight."
The golfer smiled and asked: "What's the bad news?"
"Well," the angel said, "You're scheduled to play in five minutes."
The pastor laughed a little louder than I anticipated, then backed away from his ball and made a startling and honest admission: "You know, I don't really want to go to heaven. All that worship … it seems boring to me." For one of the few times in my life, I was speechless.
We earthlings cling to this life. We try desperately to preserve and prolong it. We spend billions of dollars each year trying to look younger, stall chronic baldness and halt the inevitable onslaught of old age.
When I was 21, I didn't want Jesus to come back until I was married. (There were a few times after marriage that I prayed He would!) My daughter once told me that if our dog wasn't going to heaven, she didn't want to go there either.
I understand. I'm saving some questions for heaven, too.
… the devil has truly blinded us to the realities of heaven.
But think about it. Would we really choose a place that reeks of suffering and death, of bankruptcies and divorce, of school shootings and brutal wars—over the paradise God is preparing?
If so, the devil has truly blinded us to the realities of heaven.
The Apostle Paul said that to depart and be with Christ was "far better" than staying on earth (see Philippians 1:23), Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has planted eternity in the human heart. We have within us hopes, needs and longings that the very best marriage, the best worship time and the best golf course cannot completely fulfill. Only Jesus Christ can truly satisfy our thirst. As C.S. Lewis wrote; "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world."
I wonder how God feels when He sees us hanging on so tightly to this world, dreading the home He has been creating. It's a little like trying to explain the pleasures of driving a Ferrari to a two-year-old who would rather play with a cardboard box.
Life in this world is really just the preparation for the life to come. I wouldn't trade a thousand rounds at Pebble Beach with Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Mike Weir for one moment with the Saviour.
Is there golf in heaven? I don't know. I hope so. And I hope there hockey, too. (I'll have my teeth back!) I hope there's chocolate and dogs like mine and colours we haven't seen yet. But this I know. These things won't matter when we arrive. You see, the One who loves us most and knows our every longing will be there.
Life with Him will be out of this world.
Originally published in Faith and Friends, July 2004.
Used with permission of the author. Copyright © 2004 Christianity.ca.