Monday

No Ocean In Heaven?

I’ve always been disturbed by the fact that there won’t be a sea in the new heaven and earth. 

I love the ocean. Because I grew up on the shores of Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island, my love affair with the sea began in early childhood. My connection to the ocean, however, originated long before I was born. Like the saline solution nurses inject into our bodies to keep us hydrated during surgery, Atlantic saline has coursed through my family’s veins for generations. 

Born on the Azorian islands of Portugal, my undocumented ancestors made their livings by harvesting the creatures that swam nearby. 

In 1919, amidst the tumultuous wave of the Nazi invasion of Europe, my great-grandmother and her three young children sailed to safety and protection in America. Dodging German U-boats and enemy patrols, they made their way across the Atlantic to the hallowed haven of Ellis Island. From New York, they migrated up the coast to the tiny mill town of Bristol, where my great-grandfather awaited, and there they built a life. 

Two generations later my parents built on family land only a block from the sea, and my love affair began. Wherever I went in that peninsular town, the ocean was always part of the scenery. Like a well-worn backdrop in a small-town theater, the rocky coastline and lapping waves never changed. They formed a quaint, comforting landscape for the scenes of my young life. 



During my melancholy teenaged years, I’d often seek solace on the coast. The granite boulders that ringed the bay served as rustic chairs, and I’d sit, brooding and pensive, penning long, sad poems about unrequited love. The ocean was lovely—a consistent source of beauty for a teenager who felt very unbeautiful. 

And then I moved to the land-locked midlands of South Carolina. Like a beached starfish, my soul shriveled into parched nothingness. 

Until Jesus crashed in like a wonderfully glorious, terrifyingly frightening, amazingly powerful tidal wave of change and adventure. Loving the Creator of the sea, I discovered, was more wonderful than loving the sea itself. 

It was several years before I discovered the beauty of the southern coast, but when I did, my love affair with the ocean revived. I strolled the sandy shores of Edisto Island like an infatuated teenager. 

My love for the ocean is why the thought of a new heaven and earth without a sea has always disturbed me. 

When I stand on the edge of the vast expanse of water, sand, and sky that makes up the Atlantic Ocean, I realize how small I am. And I realize how big God is—he who created the sea, measured the water, set its tides, filled it with creatures, walks its length and depth and breadth, and holds it all in the palm of his hand—this is the God who cares for me. The sea shows me a snapshot of God, and he is MAGNIFICENT. 

“The heavens declare the glory of God,” Psalm 19:1 states, “and the firmament shows his handiwork.” 

Whenever I and my problems grow large, I need only to look to the ocean to be reminded of how much bigger God is. The ocean shows me God. As I gaze upon its enormity and realize that the sea is just one small part of God’s vast creation, my fears, challenges, and problems become rightly proportioned. If I have a big God, the well-worn saying goes, I have little problems. 

Today, I realized why there will be no sea in the new heavens and the new earth. 

We won’t need it. 

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away'” (Rev. 21:1-4). 

Romans 1:20 tells us the purpose of creation is to reveal God to us. In the new heaven and new earth, we won’t need creation to point us to God. He will be there among us. 

And I’d rather sit at the feet of Jesus than on the shores of Narragansett Bay any day. Wouldn’t you? 

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus! 

#homesickforheaventoday 

 How about you? What is your favorite place to see God? Is it in the woods? The mountains? On the lake? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

If you enjoyed this post, you might like "Anticipation Is Half the Fun -- Looking Forward to Heaven."



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5 comments:

  1. I disagree about there being no ocean in Heaven. Whatever is good here will be there, too. Have you read Randy Alcorn's book Heaven? Honestly, I can't wait to learn to scuba dive in Heaven; I don't have time now (and I'm not a good swimmer), but in Heaven, I will have all of eternity to learn!

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    1. Hi Nikki,
      I certainly don't know everything about Heaven, and Randy Alcorn's a very wise scholar. I have read his book, but would love to revisit it. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for stopping by.

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  2. I believe the sea is a reference to death, not to water. - Alicia

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    1. Your thoughts, Alicia, prompted me to do a little more study. The Greek word for sea, θάλασσα (thalassa), occurs 92 times in 83 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV. In every instance, it refers to a literal sea, either the sea in general or a specific sea, like the Mediterranean or the Red. I see no reason to think it should be translated any differently in this verse.

      One commentator I read thinks that because the sea originated with the flood and was used as an instrument of judgment and destruction, God will remove it in the new heaven and earth.

      Lots to think about. Thanks for chiming in.

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  3. I don't know when this was posted, but I just saw this topic today. I too find solace in the ocean. I love the sight of it, the vastness of it, the sound of it, the smell of it, to me it is heaven on earth. I am one who is disturbed by the fact that there won't be this great source of beauty in heaven. I know I could never hope to know all that God knows or all He is doing, so I have to go on faith that I won't miss it! Karen

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