Man’s problem is not that he was driven from an earthly paradise, but that he was separated from God’s presence. That is the great tragedy. What God lovingly offers is Himself, a restoration to His presence; no longer in an earthly garden, but in His heavenly home. “Ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah:29:13) is His promise.
What do we want from the person whom we love? Not things, not gifts, but closer communion, more love, more intimate fellowship. Thus it is that we are moved to give ourselves in our desire to please the One whom we now love with a passion. We are told that God will give us crowns and rewards in heaven. It is not possible for us to understand what that means because we have such a dim perception of what heaven will be like. Whatever the rewards may be, however, we know that each is an expression of His approval, a declaration that we have in some small way, as He has given us the grace, pleased Him. Knowing that fact alone is all the reward we could ever desire and will give us joy for eternity. Its anticipation should give us great joy here and now.
At times in our lives it seems impossible to believe (knowing there is no reason in us for Him to love us) that He could ever be pleased with us. We long to hear His “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew:25:23), but fear that it could never be so. Such humility of soul, because it reflects the simple truth of our situation except for His grace, is becoming of a Christian—but at such times we do well to remember the amazing and comforting statement of Scripture:
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God. (1 Corinthians:4:5)
Would not such praise give us cause to be pleased with ourselves and thus to imagine that there was something of value in us after all? No. Rather than being please with ourselves, we will be overcome with joy that we have pleased the One we love with all our hearts, minds, and strength. Self has been crucified with Christ and He has become our all.
Such will be the wonder of heaven. That He should be pleased with us will bring joy beyond the possibility of present comprehension. That every man will receive praise of God does not mean that each will be praised in the same way or to the same degree. Every cup will overflow with joy, but some cups will no doubt be deeper than others. There will be no need for us to recognize such differences, however, were they even apparent, for such comparisons would be meaningless in heaven’s bliss. All that He is, the full infinitude of His person, will be equally available to all.