Sunday, March 11, 2012

Micah's Age in Heaven

In the last scene of the movie, “Tree of Life,” the main characters are shown walking together through the ocean surf in front of a beautiful sunset. The movie follows a family of five (three sons—just like ours) through various times of life. While the disjointed plot of the movie does not provide us with many of the details, we do learn at one point that one of the boys had died unexpectedly. This final scene of the movie, in which all three of the boys are pictured together with their parents, provides a moving image for us, as we await our great reunion in Heaven.

Of particular interest in this final scene was the fact that the deceased son was pictured as a young boy, and not as an adult, like the other two sons who reached adulthood. Instead, he is shown to us as he was portrayed earlier in the movie--at about 7 to 10 years old. For these parents, they enjoyed not only a joyful reunion with their sons, but were reunited with their long-deceased child according to how they, as parents, last remembered him.

As grieving parents, Heather and I have often wondered how old Micah will appear to us when we see him again in Heaven. Will he be 9 months, or will he have grown older in the interim, just as we have grown older here on earth? Like other grieving parents we speak with, it is our hope that we might be able to see our son as he appeared to us, so that we might be able to not only enjoy our son’s presence again, but enjoy the very process of seeing him “grow up.”

I was surprised to learn that many Christian theologians down through the centuries have asked the question of how old we will appear to be in Heaven. Thomas Aquinas, for example, argued that regardless of our age when we die here on earth, we will all be about 33 years of age in Heaven—about the age of Jesus when we was crucified and resurrected. The theory is that, since this is the age when most humans reach a peak of physical strength, but before the human body starts to degenerate, then this is the age we will all be, as pictures of perfection. According to contemporary author Hank Hanegraaf, “If the blueprints for our glorified bodies are in the DNA, then it would stand to reason that our bodies will be resurrected at the optimal stage of development determined by our DNA.”

Others suggest that the New Earth will be filled with people of all different ages. For example, in Isaiah 11:6-9 we are told that, in the New Earth, “…the infants will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest…” If infants are going to play next to cobras and vipers in the New Earth, then not everyone can be 33 years of age! Instead, grieving parents might have the opportunity to parent their children through those years that they thought they had lost with them here on earth.

I’ve decided that it is OK for us to consider how we will see Micah again on that wonderful day. While we don’t know for certain how Micah will appear to us, we can be certain that God will reveal Micah to us in a way that will give us the most joy and God the most glory. For many children, Christmas is so enjoyable because, regardless of what they receive as gifts, they know that they will not be disappointed. Similarly, we as believers can look forward to Heaven, because while we might not know what Heaven will be like, we know we won’t be disappointed.

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