A Special Needs Dad's Thoughts About Heaven

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6, NIV

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I have been thinking a lot about heaven recently. These thoughts bring up a variety of emotions. Since my sons have been born, I think even more about what it will be like in heaven someday with them. And with my youngest being non- verbal, it has me imagining it even more.

The Bible is clear that there is a lot to look forward to.  Many specifics about heaven are not covered in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some absolute truths: There will be rewards (Matthew 5:12); we will get new bodies (Philippians 3:21); there will be no tears or sadness (Revelation 21:4); sadly, not everyone will be there (Matthew 7:21)!

What does this all mean for God’s children who have special needs?

I have to believe that if there is not a capacity for rejecting God’s gift, there will be no separation from God, in this life or after physical death.

Some people may be tempted to view special needs, illness, or disability as reasons to not believe in God. This issue is, of course, a small part of the bigger question of why bad things happen to good people. Again, I can’t claim to have the correct or full answer. Certainly, sin entering the world through the first people and continuing in everyone since (except Jesus) to the present day is part of the answer. Satan’s work is another part of the answer.

To me, though, the part of the answer that is easiest for me to understand and come to terms with is that what is important, lasting, and meaningful is not really about our time here on earth. One hundred years of life (on the high end) is nothing when eternity is considered. So it makes this time here on earth, however long that is, a training ground of sorts: The place to get to know God through Jesus in preparation of knowing Him fully later.

So these special needs are not permanent! This time on earth is short, as God makes clear through James: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14b, NIV).

As many parents with special needs children must imagine, my thoughts of Luke being fully healed are comforting and joyous ones. Seeing him in his new body, but still clearly being my “Luke”, having a LONG conversation with him, and seeing him full of peace and joy is a great vision for me. I like the idea of a line of people waiting to talk to Luke, to have conversations for which they have waited a lifetime. I see his grandparents and uncle giving him a big hug and asking him what he thinks about all kinds of things. I see his big brother, Brandon, laughing and playing with him in a whole new way without having to worry about him. I see his mom looking happier than she ever has, connecting in a new way with her boy as they walk along the beach. And I see me with Luke doing things we have not yet been able to do, like going for a run and working out together, going on a campout, listening to his jokes. I’m hopeful we might be able to do some of these things during our time here on earth, but I’m confident we will be able to do these things during God’s eternal life.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do your visions of heaven include? Are they consistent with Scripture?

  2. Has your thinking about heaven changed since having a loved one with special needs? If so, how?

This article is a shortened version of Michael Abb’s writing in Life On The Spectrum. To read more from Michael and the other authors of Life On The Spectrum check out www.lifeonthespectrumbook.com or order the book below.   Because no two people with autism are the same, Life on the Spectrum’s authors all bring their unique perspective and experiences to the table. Their honest, raw and heartfelt stories show how God is at work in the real-world struggles of families impacted by autism.


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Mike Abbs, who graduated from University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana with a psychology degree, has been a police officer for 23 years. Currently he is a police lieutenant, and he served on the SWAT team for 18 years. When his wife Deb isn’t asking him to write vignettes, he enjoys spending time with his family, eating healthy,  physical fitness, playing fantasy football and watching old movies.

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