Children have lots of questions about God and heaven. While most kids have ideas of what heaven will be like, do they know what God says? Kids (and many adults) picture heaven as up in the sky, among the clouds, with angels who have wings and harps. They have a general understanding that heaven is with God, but few realize our ultimate destination is not up in the sky.
In God Made Me for Heaven: Helping Children Live for an Eternity with Jesus, Marty Machowski shares deep theological truths through a creative story. Told through the perspective of a grandmother sharing her hope of heaven to her grandchildren and their friends, this picture book beautifully illustrated by Trish Mahoney includes a gospel presentation and speaks about eternity in simple language kids can understand.
An Interview with Marty Machowski, Author of
God Made Me for Heaven
Q: Please introduce us to your book, God Made Me for Heaven.
Like the other books in the God Made Me series, God Made Me for Heaven looks to teach truths using a fictional story. The story creates a setting through which the characters in the story can ask questions, in this case about heaven and get answers from the other characters in the story. That makes the truth that is conveyed more interesting and holds the young readers’ attention.
God Made Me for Heaven gives children a biblical view of heaven and helps them with the question, What happens after you die? In the story, Leo’s grandfather recently died, and he and his friends engage his grandmother on the subject. She debunks the kids’ misinformation, such as the idea that all we will do in heaven is float around with angel wings and sing. She also teaches the children that one day Jesus will return and create heaven right here on earth, making it brand new.
Q: What are some of the most common questions that children ask about heaven? Do you answer those questions in the book?
Kids want to know if they will go to heaven. Some parents are quick to say yes. But the Bible is clear and tells us that turning from your sin and trusting Jesus is the only way to be welcomed into the family of God. It can feel harsh to tell a child we don’t automatically go to heaven—that we are sinners deserving of punishment. But if you don’t share the bad news, the good news of the gospel doesn’t seem as good. After all, if we don’t need repentance or our sins forgiven—if we all go to heaven, then why would I need Jesus?
Children also want to know what heaven will be like. That is why I share the description from Revelation in the story and why I have the grandmother explain that one day, when Jesus returns, heaven will be on earth. Kids picture a heaven full of clouds with everyone floating around, playing harps, and singing. But heaven is going to be a lot like our earth. We will have grassy lawns, trees, rivers. The difference is that sickness, death, and evil will all be destroyed.
Q: What do Christians (adults included) most often misunderstand about heaven?
Most adults think of dying and going to be with Jesus. Many do not know that the Bible points us to an even greater day. That of course is the day Jesus returns for his bride, the church. Peter taught about this when he said, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13 ESV).
The book of Revelation tells a story of the new heavens and earth that many adults don’t know about. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:1–4 ESV).
Until Jesus returns, death and sin remain here on earth. Those who pass into glory will leave them behind, but we won’t have new bodies until Jesus returns.
Q: Through the story, how do you describe what heaven will be like?
I tell the children that heaven will be like a summer vacation. I went to a Catholic school growing up, with a ton of rules and teachers ready to enforce them. When summer vacation came, it felt like a season of God’s grace. I lived in a rural area with miles and miles of forest paths to explore. Back then we didn’t get into much trouble in the summertime. We just enjoyed God’s creation. We swung on grape vines, went fishing in creeks, climbed trees, and rode our bikes down woodland trails for hours and hours.
Imagine having all that without death, pain, sorrow, or tears. And of course, doing it all with Jesus. We’ll get to walk and talk with him just like the disciples.
Q: Can you tell us more about what is included in the back section of the book for parents?
The study section in the back is organized as a list of questions to help parents answer their children’s questions and take them to the next level of understanding. I answer questions such as: Where is heaven? Do we go to heaven when we die? What will the new heavens be like? Who can go to heaven? I include the Bible verses that back up the answers and take the opportunity to share the gospel. After all, the Bible tells us that only those who turn from their sin and place their belief and trust in Jesus will be saved and go to heaven.
I also provide parents with a few discussion questions to use to draw out their children. The combination of reading the book and reviewing the discussion questions will help a child grasp the content of the book. Open-ended questions like, “What did you learn about heaven from this story?” can help kids share without feeling there is a right or wrong answer.
Q: What do you most look forward to about heaven?
Just before our wedding, I had opportunity to meet my wife’s 104-year-old grandfather. We only had a few minutes with him as he slept most of the day. But when he awoke to talk, his mind was clear. After a short greeting he shared, “I long to kneel at Jesus feet and be with him.” He lived a long and blessed life, but he was ready to go and be with Jesus.
Ever since that day I have grown in my desire to leave this broken world and be with Jesus. I agree with the apostle Paul who said, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account” (Philippians 1:23–24 ESV). Paul wanted to be with Jesus but had the sense that the Lord had more work for him to do. That is where I am. If the trumpet blast signaling the Lord’s return happened today, I would not be disappointed that I didn’t get another day on earth. I would be excited for the Lord’s return and the new heavens and earth.
Q: You point out that we’ll get to talk to people such as Moses and ask them questions. What question do you most look forward to asking someone in heaven?
There are stories the Bible tells but doesn’t explain. I’d love to hear them told by the men who lived to see them. How did Jesus multiply the fishes and the loaves? Did the bread and fish just appear or were the baskets a bit like the carpet bag of Mary Poppins, where you just kept pulling more bread out of the bottom?
Or I would like to ask Moses, “What was it like for you to walk through the Red Sea on dry ground?” But more than anyone, I can’t wait to talk to Jesus and see him face-to-face. I’d love for him to tell me stories of all that he did that are not in the Bible. John says, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25 ESV).
Q: God Made Me for Heaven is part of the God Made Me series. Can you tell us more about the series and other books that are available?
God Made Me for Heaven is part of the God Made Me Series which equips parents to have important, impactful conversations with their children, helping them to grow in understanding of God, themselves, and others. Each book in the series contains a special section in the back that’s just for parents and caregivers that provides biblical guidance and offers additional information and resources for talking about the topic addressed in the story.
The other books in the series include:
- God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb
- God Made Me AND You: Celebrating God’s Design for Ethnic Diversity by Shai Linne
- God Made Me Unique: Helping Children See Value in Every Person by Joni and Friends
- God Made Boys and Girls: Helping Children Understand the Gift of Gender by Marty Machowski
- God Made Me for Worship: Helping Children Understand Church by Jared Kennedy
- God Cares for Me: Helping Children Trust God When They’re Sick by Scott James
- God Made Me in His Image: Helping Children Appreciate Their Bodies by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb
God Made Me For Heaven
In God Made Me for Heaven, Marty Machowski shares deep theological truths through a creative story. Told through the perspective of a grandmother sharing her hope of heaven to her grandchildren and their friends, this picture book beautifully illustrated by Trish Mahoney includes a gospel presentation and speaks about eternity in simple language kids can understand.