Visiting hours in Heaven

moon alexander-rodrigues-1318713-unsplashI know the premise is flawed. I know it’s counter to everything we understand about how truly “apart” Heaven is and will be.

I can’t help but wish, though, for visiting hours in Heaven.

This is a rough couple of months for my family. My first husband, Bill, died on April 22, 1990, after a week in a coma and fifteen months fighting pancreatic cancer. My dad died in March, 1995, just three days after what is best described as a stroke. My mom’s mother died about a week later.

Others have gone as well … My step-granddaughter Ana (same name as my daughter) died at 18, after routine heart surgery and a flood of complications. Grandpa Andy died after 90+ years of a wonderful and selfless life. Both of my parents had siblings who died very soon after birth. Tim’s parents and grandparents are gone as well.

Aunts, uncles and cousins, dear friends, classmates, pastors, teachers, colleagues, mentors, protégés.

Billy Graham, D. L. Moody, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The list is endless.

So I wish we could sign up for an hour or two, maybe a day in Heaven, just catching up on the good stuff with those we love and miss like the dickens. I wish I could tell Bill and my dad – and Tim’s mom and dad – about Asher and Audrey. I’d love to show my granddaughter Ana pictures of her brother and how well he is doing, have a cuppa joe with Andy, and meet my other uncles, the ones I never knew.

(For the record, I’d wait to meet Billy and the more famous gang until I get there for real.)

Like any other reunions, though, it would too soon be the end of the day. Maybe those good-byes would be harder than the first ones. But maybe leaving would be more gentle, seeing first-hand how our loved ones are patiently waiting for us.

I’m sure it is a terrible idea. God knew what He was doing when He made the separation clear and permanent.

But it would be visiting hours like no hospital ever experienced. Imagine with me how we would run for them – as fast as we ran in the fourth grade. It would be hard to know who to hug first or where to start the conversation.

They would already know each other, yes? Wouldn’t it be so fun to see how that played out!?!

Of course, the logistics of something so outrageous would require planning of epic proportions …

How and where would we sign up?
Could we go more than once?
What kind of transporter will need to be built? Who will build them? And how many? Where?
Will we see things we shouldn’t know until later? And will we just forget them? Or do we have to add
 a Memory Eraser to the transporter system?
Will we be in temporary, flawless bodies?
Can I meet Jesus while I’m there? Or is that asking a little too much?

Is there a dress code? Is time the same? Can I take things with me? Working out the details would require nothing short of miracles. But, then again, we are talking about Heaven…

It would be tricky. I probably haven’t even considered most of the issues we’d need to work out. Besides, it’s just a crazy idea made up of a bunch of How?’s

The one thing of which I’m very sure, however, is that we’d not waste one single minute. We would hold each other tight, sit close, and listen with both ears. We would talk about the important things and leave the petty behind.

Which begs the question: Why do we waste so much of our precious and limited time here on Earth?

It’s not about how we spend free time playing video games or doing crossword puzzles. Even taking a whole day to binge watch West Wing or Gilmore Girls in our pajamas with popcorn, cheese dip, and a 2-liter of Orange Crush isn’t beyond redemption. In fact, some of that down time renews our strength to face the harshness of what we do waste time doing.

Like why do we chase professional success more than relationships and kindness? Why do we work harder to secure our carefully planned future than we do securing the basic needs of those who have less? Why do we slave to maintain our “hard-earned” investments and shabby-chic homes while people running for their lives can’t find a safe place to sleep?

Why do we believe freedom, security, and a sweet quality of life is reserved for those who are simply born in the right place? And why do we waste so much time arguing with those who don’t agree, no matter which side of the argument we hold?

Why is so much time and energy spent creating tension and hate when it could be spent creating goodness and love? … holding people up, holding people together?

Why do we use most of our limited energy to make the world better for us instead of just better?

Oh, my lovelies, you know what I mean. I could go on and on, but I don’t have to. Anyway, I’m probably preaching to the choir.

But it is worth repeating and reminding. It’s important that we encourage each other to encourage each other. Silence and hope for the best will not overcome the ugly rhetoric and blame game.

Let’s keep ourselves diligent and ever after the heavenly goodness we know. Just like Jesus taught us to pray: God, may Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

I know. Drat. There aren’t visiting hours in Heaven. But let’s do the best we can in the time we have.

Let’s pray like John Ortberg, “God, make up there come down here.”



Photo by Alexander Rodrigues on Unsplash


  1. There is a song by Goo Goo Dolls, called “Name” – it’s lyrics read like a plead to someone gone for a visit. Here are a few of the lines.
    “But you could hide beside me 
    Maybe for a while 
    And I won’t tell no one your name…”

    Yes, it would be nice to have visiting hours, but I do think letting go would be that much harder.
    “I used to think about it all the time, but I don’t need the same
    It’s lonely where you are, come back down… And I won’t tell ‘em your name”
    I like to think my loved ones and ancestors are closer, like the air I breathe and the steps I take. I remind myself, we are so loved.
    My thoughts are with you, Nancy.
    Grief is like an ocean, the tide does not stop, but the swells are less often. xo


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