The text read, “Please call me.” I looked at the name and knew it would not be good news. It wasn’t. A friend who had been critically ill with COVID, for whom I had prayed for days, had stepped into eternity. When I spoke with his widow, my heart broke – for her, for the sadness that finds so many at this time. After leading a Bible class about “The essentials of Faith,” of all subjects, I went home to a quiet house, where I sat alone. I confess to being soul weary and sad.
Then, I thought about the promise of Paradise. There is great comfort in His promise. Knowing that Heaven is my home is a comfort, but that surety does not erase the sorrows that are much in evidence in the world. Do not misunderstand my musings today. I am not complaining. I am blessed with the love of God, with dear friends, with resources that allow me to live comfortably, with really wonderful children! Yet, even with so many rich blessings, I am aware that I’m not “home” yet.
And, I yearn to know that Paradise where sin does not exist, where suffering is unknown, and where intimacy with God is unbroken. The Psalmist expresses my desire: “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4, NIV)
Heaven is written into our hearts by our Creator. He made us to love and serve Him. As we mature in faith, walking in the life of the Holy Spirit, we come to intensely desire His Presence.
The late Dallas Willard, a thoughtful Christian, urges us to keep our perspective pointed to eternity. IF we lose sight of God’s promise of Paradise, we can; and many do, become disillusioned, perhaps bitter, as we deal with the inevitable disappointments that come to all in time. He writes, “I meet many faithful Christians who, in spite of their faith, are deeply disappointed in how their lives have turned out. Sometimes it is a matter of how they experience aging, which they take to mean they no longer have a future. But often, due to circumstances or wrongful decisions and actions by others, what they had hoped to accomplish in life they did not ….
Much of the distress of these people comes from a failure to realize that their life lies before them.. the life that lies endlessly before us in the kingdom of God.” (The Divine Conspiracy)
Faith gives us ‘eyes’ that can see past the pain that comes from those things that defy our understanding. Faith gives us the ability to grasp hold of the promise of life beyond this life. Christian, renew this hope. Your eternal life will not begin when you die! The joy of Heaven is NOT available only after our body is in the grave! We are citizens of Heaven, now by the grace of Jesus Christ. We are alive in Him, now. We can commune with the Lord of Glory now. Even as we live in expectation of Paradise to come, we are commissioned to establish the Eternal Kingdom of God here now, advocates for justice, messengers of reconciliation.
There is an example for us found in the life of the father of the faithful, Abraham. Hearing God’s call, he followed the Lord, living his days here on earth on pilgrimage. If you know his story, you know he was far from perfect. On his way ‘home’ he took some detours from the straight and narrow path, but he never lost sight of where he was going.
The Word tells us that “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent. And so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise.” Here is the summary line, the reason for his faithfulness. “Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10, NLT)
Our concept of Paradise is skewed by half-baked ideas of human imagination that rob the promise of its power. We adopt the nonsensical ideas that Heaven is a place of misty fog, enveloping transparent spirits floating in a ghostly realm, where angels strum their harps sitting on the edge of the clouds. Heaven is substantial place, created by the same God that thought up the refraction of sunlight by water moisture which produces the beauty of a rainbow.
The God who designed the exquisite human body, a perishable thing, who allows us to be awed by the color of a sunset, Who writes His glory in the renewal of life each Springtime, has made a Home for us that is even more wonderful. If He would make a temporary world of such splendor, I can only begin to imagine what Heaven, His eternal home looks like. John tried to describe it for us borrowing earthly descriptions of beauty, gates of pearl and streets of gold, to try to understand his visions! The best conversation, the deepest intimacy with another, the most wonderful worship, the most blissful day of rest – are just glimpses of Paradise that waits!
Christian, let’s not allow the sorrow and difficulties of life to rob us of our hope of Paradise that is prepared for us by our Father. Christ Jesus has opened the doors and will welcome us home. When sin threatens to engulf you, when all seems futile, when disappointment breaks your heart – look up and thank God that He has written Heaven into your heart. It is precisely the longing for Paradise that makes us unwilling to settle down and desire our best life now. We are headed home!
Here is a word from the Word. Lord, make it Living Truth that feeds faithfulness in us, I pray. Amen. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16, NIV)
(Spend a few minutes with this song and think about ‘home.’)
This world is not what it was meant to be
All this pain all this suffering
There’s a better place waiting for me
Ev’ry tear will be wiped away
Ev’ry sorrow and sin erased
We’ll dance on seas of amazing grace
In heaven in heaven
Home where the streets are golden
Ev’ry chain is broken
Oh I wanna go oh I wanna go
Home where ev’ry fear is gone I’m in Your open arms
Where I belong (Home)
Lay down my burdens I lay down my past
I run to Jesus no turning back
Thank God Almighty I’ll be free at last
In heaven in heaven
I’m goin’ (Home)
Blinded eyes will fin’lly see
The dead will rise on the shores of eternity
The trump will sound the angels will sing
I am goin’
Where I belong
I’m goin’ home
I’m goin’ home
I’m on my way home
I’m goin’ home
Chris Tomlin | Ed Cash | Scott Cash
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