Are There Reindeer In Heaven?
A Rabid Fundamentalist Column
John W. Cowart
My neighbors across the street still haven’t put away their Christmas yard display.
Seeing it out my window I think of a great joke so old I can’t remember where I first heard it:
A wealthy couple returned from their vacation in Europe aboard an ocean liner.
On board they became acquainted with a young woman from Finland who impressed them with her enthusiasm and brightness. She told them about her plans to immigrate to the U.S., find a job, enroll in school and become a naturalized citizen.
The couple talked it over and decided they wanted to help the young lady get established, so they called her to their cabin for a job interview.
“Are you a good cook?” the wife asked.
“O, no M’am. Back home my mother does all the cooking,” the girl replied.
“Well then, are you good at cleaning house?” asked the husband.
“No, Sir,” the girl said. “My older sister does all the housecleaning”.
“Hum. Perhaps you could be a nanny. Are you good with children?”
“No. My younger sister takes care of all the little ones at home”.
“This is really a problem. You have no marketable skills at all”.
At this the young woman grew indignant. “Of course I do,” she exclaimed. “Everyone for miles around says that in our whole village there is no body better than I am at milking reindeer!”.
I think we all can identify with this young woman.
We are fast approaching the Far Shore on our voyage from our old world to the new one.
And, for myself, I find that, on reflection, the skills and talents and values which I relied on in the old world, will not make the grade in the coming world.
For instance, I’m proud of my ability to cast a shrimp net. I’m good at it. Yet I read in the apostle John’s Revelation these odd words:
“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”.
No sea in Heaven?
Surely that’s a mistranslation of some obscure Greek word. If there is no sea in Heaven, then where exactly am I supposed to shrimp?
What good is knowing how to cast a net in a perfect circle so that every sinker hits the water at the same time going to be in a Heaven where there is no sea?
Well, what about my other talents and abilities? For instance I pride myself on being a published writer, but from my business relationships with earthly editors and publishers, I seriously question whether any of them will be in Heaven either.
Maybe so. God is merciful and He will save anybody, so perhaps there will be some publishers and editors in Heaven. But, even if they are there, what would they publish?
What possible use could my writing be in Heaven?
On one level I write about religious stuff in order to think through and know my own beliefs. But in Heaven I will not need to do that anymore because as Paul said, “Then I shall know fully, even as I am also known”.
Now another quality of mine that I feel proud of in this world is my sexual ability. My wife assures me that I’m great in bed. In my heart I’m sure that James Bond envies my prowess. Poor Zero Zero Seven.
But, is this a quality of mine that will cut the mustard in Heaven?
Doesn’t look that way.
All four Gospels record Jesus as saying, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in Heaven”. (Whatever that means??? Who knows anything at all about the sex life of angels???)
I don’t know about you, but when I get to Heaven, first thing, I intend to check under my white robes to see what’s there!
So, the three qualities of mine which I value most in this world, casting a net, writing, and sex (not necessarily in that order) will be as valuable in Heaven as being the best reindeer milker in Manhattan.
I want to complain to The Management!
Our culture, and virtually every other culture, places great value on material wealth. Let’s face it; on our voyage to the New World some folks do get to travel in First Class. But we all disembark at the same place. And we’ll every one go through customs. And at that judgment we’ll all stand empty-handed with no merchandise to declare. Our buckets for milking reindeer will be useless on the Far Shore.
So what does really matter when we get from here to There?
Right off the top of my head I think of two Scriptures which address that question:
The Prophet Micah asked, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the Most High God”?
He mentions several unacceptable possibilities and concludes, “He has showed you, O man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God”!
Those are the Prophet’s answers.
St. Paul also offer’s three answers to our question of what really matters:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.
Personally, I find Paul’s observation a trifle discouraging.
Faith. -- Even as small as a mustard seed. Ha. My faith is so wobbly and so small that I can’t move a paperclip much less a mountain. I’m ready to deny my faith at least three times a day. Even a toothache makes me doubt God’s love, care or even His existence.
Love -- Fat chance. For a curmudgeon like me? Most of the time it’s all I can do to tolerate others much less love them.
So I’m left with hope. “To cherish a desire with the expectation of fulfillment” That’s what my dictionary says hope is.
I have to leave faith and love to better people than I am; but my expectation of Jesus is marvelous.
I expect Him to be what He says He is and to do what He says He will.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms,” He said. “I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”.
And once we’re there, then what?
In John’s Revelation he saw that Far Shore and heard thousands and thousands and ten thousand times ten thousands encircling the throne and chanting: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and praise”!
When is He supposed to receive all this good stuff?
And who is He supposed to receive it all from?
Here and now. There and then.
From you and me.
He is worthy.
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