Heaven gingerly brushes earth, painting our glades with the dew of paradise. And hell is busy too, flicking amoebic dollups of evil tar from corrupted bristles wherever beauty and light has found a home.
You can taste heaven, and you can sample hell. Right here, right now. We do it every day.
That steak you swooned over left an aftertaste of heaven. As did the cloud-like dessert, that melt in your mouth chocolate sensation that tasted like more.
That love song of a sunset, the kiss that made your heart leave your body, that squeaking bundle scrunched up in the maternity ward—are fore-tastes of heaven. Those heroic movie scenes that call to your soul, rousing you to greater nobility—foretastes of heaven. They are real, and they are right.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” the Psalmist dares us, knowing the good things will speak, sing, dance and woo us back Home if we follow them where they truly lead. We’re like children playing in the yard, entranced back into the kitchen by the aroma of freshly baked cookies.
Look around. Heaven is this, friends—all the good things—redeemed, healed, amplified beyond comparison, infused, reborn, angelic, infinitely more-so, and eternal. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him.” (II Cor. 2:9). The best things in life are mere morsels that cry, “There is more where this came from. Much, much more!”
But hell is this too.
That betrayal that gutted you, the words that dug and twisted deep in your chest, the festering greed slopping in your mouth as you lick your lips, the death that stole your dreams, those unthinkable thoughts, that sadistic blanket of despair, the spineless shame slapping down your vain attempts to rise…
Hell is this, friends—but there is more where this comes from. And much, much worse.
So the question becomes “What do you want?”
Speak your answer, if you dare. Then put it down, flip it over, and peel off the wrapper. Fold back the layers, one by one, until the kernel of truth is exposed: I want life. I want heaven. I want God.
Know this: When we die and find ourselves in either heaven or hell we’ll never be able to claim, “No fair. I had no idea this place ever existed. I didn’t see this coming.” No, both citizens of heaven and prisoners of hell will find themselves thinking, “I know this place. I have the strangest feeling I’ve been here before. I’ve tasted this.”
And of course, they will be right. Sample heaven, sample hell. Eternal Deja Vu.
So when Jesus corners us on this side of the eternal equation and says, “Whoever believes in me will never perish, but have eternal life,” he knows we have already tasted both heaven and hell, sampling more than enough to make an informed choice.