Most of you know how much I revel in being a grandfather (Apa). In less than eight years, we have gone from 0 grands to 11, with our latest, Wyldenn Merit, being born just a few weeks ago. The oldest is now 7 ¾ and we hit most ages in between.
I’m not expert yet on my “favorite” stage of growth for the grands in as much as there are several ages to which they have not yet attained. However, I must say, the toddler period is a fascinating time. It is a time when genuine communication can go on (in the cutest of ways) and we begin to get a really good look into their little personalities. However, toddler-ship can be dangerous. Just this week, two of our little toddlers face planted; Amelia (who just started walking a matter of weeks ago) on the sidewalk, and Ellorie on the cement step in our garage leading into the house. Being a toddler can be tough. But, all our toddlers seem healthy, on course developmentally, and happy.
But would you want to be a toddler forever?
A few years ago, I was in a discussion on the subject of Heaven with a number of other pastors. Heaven is a subject that has a broad latitude for speculation as to what it is exactly going to be like. So, if you have substantial disagreement with what I am going to say, I’m not trying to be dogmatic only reflective. Randy Alcorn in his book on Heaven, spends a great deal of time with what he transparently calls “sanctified imagination” on the subject of Heaven. It is “sanctified” in the sense that thinking about it is flavored by general Bible truth, if not copious amounts of biblical data on the subject.
Our discussion was far ranging that day. One of the questions we broached was that of rewards in Heaven. Again, while there is some data on rewards it is relatively scant beyond the mention of the five crowns that might be won during our lives and bestowed in Heaven. I will confess to you, one of the reasons I would like to live a long time, is so that I might be able to garner rewards for a long time. Now, allow me some “sanctified imagination” here but, I tend to believe that there will be “status” in Heaven at least in a practical sense. For instance, in Revelation 4 we see that there are four and twenty elders seated on 24 thrones around THE Throne (Rev. 4:4). That they are in such close proximity to the Throne and themselves are seated on thrones, signifies “status” in a practical way. Positionally, those elders are no more loved than the least in Heaven. But practically, they have a status that is in some way set apart from others. If this practical status exists, there will be no jealousy, no dissatisfaction, and no complaint among the myriads in Heaven because the elders have a different practical status. If Paul, Abraham, or Moses, have a different practical status than I do, there will be no cry of “foul” on my part. I will be happy, content, and rejoicing in whatever practical status I may have in the New Heaven and the New Earth. But, in thinking about this, I also tend to think that our status will be eternal. That is, there will be no ladder climbing or “advancement” in Heaven. It is what it is. And we are what we are at that point.
In discussing this very point, one of the brothers agreed and explained it like this. In Heaven, there will be those who will have the status of a two-year-old, others of an adolescent, others as adults, and some as wise old sages. Some will have great responsibility in eternity, and some will have little. What determines that is what we do with this life. Once eternity begins for us, our eternal status will have been determined. To me (again, sanctified imagination here) if this is so, that lends incredible importance to what I do or don’t do today. If this is so, no prayer, no act of kindness, no minute of Bible reading/study, no service rendered, no worship song sung, no temptation resisted, etc., is without its eternal effect on our eternal status.
But in this discussion, one of the men asked, “Won’t there be regret and sadness then in Heaven for those who are now consigned to be a ‘two-year-old’ for all eternity?” The answer came back in the form of another question, “Is a two-year-old dissatisfied to be a two-year-old?” The implication was that in whatever place we find ourselves, we will be content and happy to be there. But then the brother said, “But on this side of Heaven…who wants to be an eternal toddler?”
I’m afraid many, many Christians have given no serious thought to these things. Our chance to have an elevated privilege in Heaven for eternity, is based in what we do in this life. Isn’t it true that most Christians will be eternal toddlers in Heaven if the case I have set forth is true? Happy for all eternity? Yes. Upset that someone else is closer to the Throne than others? No. But an eternal toddler, nonetheless. Ask yourself, will your love for Christ and his church, and will your worship and service to the same, bring you to an eternity of great responsibility and nearness to the Throne?
George Whitfield (Calvinist) was asked once if he thought he would see John Wesley (Arminian) in Heaven. Whitfield said, “No.” Somewhat surprised by the answer, the questioner asked Whitefield, “Why?” Whitefield replied, “For he shall be so close to the Throne and I so far away, that I shant be able to see him.” What a gracious answer. But it did reveal that Whitfield, at least, believed in the concept that in Heaven some will be closer to the throne to others.
So, will you be happy if you have a toddler’s existence in Heaven? Yes. But who would choose right now to be an eternal toddler? Practically speaking, it seems many are doing just that.