Saturday, January 17, 2009

Playing Hockey in Heaven

Recently my roommate asked me, “Do you think there will be hockey in Heaven?” I remembered all the hours as a child trading hockey cards with my friends, playing it at the elementary school next door and watching as many games I could set my eyes on. I remembered the Vancouver Canuck cards I took to a game at the Pacific Coliseum, hopeful that they would be signed by role models like Kirk McLean, Sergio Momesso, Tim Hunter and Ryan Walter. When my hopes were realized, I was on cloud nine.

Living with a visual impairment and other challenges I acquired due to a stroke has been a challenge, and I have often wondered what it would be like if I was playing with the Canucks rather than watching them from the couch. I assume I will keep watching for the rest of my life, but will my sight be perfect, and the results of my stroke be corrected, so I can finally play when I get to Heaven?

As a teenager, I went to the S.C.O.R.E. computer camp, for students with visual impairments, and attempted to get as close to the game as I could. In addition to receiving air-faire to, and accommodation in Mississauga, Ontario for the duration of the camp, and a five thousand dollar cheque from the Wayne and Walter Gretzky foundation to kick-start my post-secondary educational career, I was told I would meet the Great One himself to express my thankfulness. Though the cheque was cashed, framed, and used, my hope to meet Wayne never materialized, though I did meat his dad and the money he gave me evaporated quickly.

My dad has shared his excitement with me that I will be able to play hockey with Gretzky in heaven because I would be able to see everything perfectly there. This hope is based on Romans 8:23 and 1 Corinthians 15:43-44 where Paul says that “we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering,” which seems to preclude that we will receive new bodies in Heaven.

If I could choose from any kind of Heavenly body I wanted, I might decide on one that is 6’3”, 250lb and muscular with a German accent like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then at least I would have the body I always wanted when I was on earth. But what would I do after that. Would I strut around, flex my muscles for all of Heaven to see because I had finally received the body I always wanted?

I have heard people say things like, “Everything will be better in heaven when we don’t have to ______,” completing the sentence with reasons why life on earth sucks so much. However, if you were given exactly what you were lacking, would it be helpful?

A couple of weeks ago, several members of the staff I am apart of talked about how winning the lottery often causes great grief in a family, even though their joy was intense for a short time. Family members may soon squabble over money that had miraculously appeared and they realize they cannot handle their new wealth. Some winners of ABC’s show “Extreme Makeover,” suffer head and heartaches after their house is renovated and refurnished, because they are unable to afford the new, more expensive, lifestyle they receive as a result, and are forced to sell their home.

These are stories of people who expected great things, but were disappointed in one way or another. In the end, they realized that these material possessions, though helpful for a time, are useless. As Christians, our first desire is to be where Jesus is. Nothing more and nothing less. The personal possessions or the perfect bodies we may or may not have here on earth do not change the Lord’s willingness to welcome us into Heaven. But we must be willing to let them go, because what we will receive is much greater than anything we may acquire here.

When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout for victory!

Eli­za E. Hew­itt

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