As all of life comes under the lordship of Christ, invigorating every moment, our longing for heaven grows stronger, not weaker.
On the one hand, we find a contentment and joy in doing God’s work in God’s way. On the other hand, a deep and abiding satisfaction eludes us as we fight against the thorns of sin that infest our work. We are sinners to the core. Even at our best we are flawed and broken and not what we are supposed to be. We groan, along with all of creation, under the weight of sin and death.
We ache to escape the shadowlands and to live full and unfettered lives. We long to see God face-to-face, and not just through a glass darkly. We want to feel the transcendent joy of whole and healthy relationships, of well and completely fit bodies, of life as it was made to be before humanity’s rebellion. We do not want to live in the valley of the shadow of death, but in complete freedom and immortality. We long for our true home, a place we have never seen but yearn for nonetheless.
Ever since my childhood I have loved New England lakes. Their beauty captivates me. I am enchanted looking at the sun dance on the crystal clear water surrounded by stands of pine trees under a deep blue sky. On one vacation to Connecticut, I swam to the middle of a lake on a perfect summer day and floated on my back looking up at the sky. Even as I exulted in one of the things I most enjoy, I felt its deficiency. It just was not enough. Gaining what I dreamed about reminded me that the lake is not what I really want in my deepest part.
What I truly want and need is God. Only he can satisfy my deepest longings. All of my desires point me back to the Creator who wants me to be completely his. Our full and final consolation lies in heaven.
The greatest joys in this world can only give us a glimpse of what we really want. Our fulfillment comes from walking with God imperfectly now, but perfectly in the future. Our longing to be with him keeps us going. It gives us strength to fight demons within and demons without. It draws us on when despair threatens to undo us. We yearn to receive a rich welcome into the Kingdom of Light, so we press on.
Like a marathon runner tempted to quit, we keep our eyes fixed on the prize, “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). We do not want to be among those who are ashamed upon seeing him and shrink back, but among those whose hearts leap at the thought of being in his presence. We stumble again and again, but we keep going because of him who calls us. We run alongside others so we do not lose heart, urging one another on, remembering the saints who have gone before us who endured every conceivable hardship yet claimed the prize in the end.
It is not about you or me, but all about him.
Seek to save your life in self-gratification and you will lose yourself. But give yourself away in humble service, and you will find life, and much more, you will find him who made you and for whom you were made.