But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.—Philippians 3:20,21
Some glad morning when this life is o’er
I’ll fly away
To a land on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away
This past week while I was home sick, I had extra time to nail down some details for the upcoming year, and now everyone in our house is excited about some of the things on the calendar: I have a conference in San Diego in February, and the whole family is going to come along so we can go to the zoo and the beach. Then in June we’ll go camping on the coast for a few days, and in August we’ll go see Carey’s family in Washington.
I love getting out of town. It’s nothing against Susanville; I felt the same way when I lived on the Oregon Coast, or in Portland or Denver or Spokane. And it’s nothing against my job. I love my job, but people weren’t made to do the same thing day after day with no breaks. We need something on the calendar to break up the routine, something to look forward to. As I talked about during Advent, this is one of the reasons God gave us holidays. We need to be able to look ahead and say “Something good is coming.” It gives us hope, and a different perspective on our daily lives.
For believers, of course, we have the ultimate Event on the calendar: one day, Jesus is coming back to take us home. If we die before this happens, we will find ourselves in His presence in paradise. No matter what our daily lives look like, something good is coming. We have the ultimate reason for hope, and when we remember this, it changes our perspective entirely.
But the hope of Heaven is hard to hold onto; in some ways, it may be harder as we get older. I remember coming back from summer camp with a group of my teenage friends, all of us so on fire for Jesus that we couldn’t talk about anything else. We were riding in a car with someone’s mom, and the topic of conversation was heaven. One of the girls, who loved to sing, said she couldn’t wait to worship all the time. Another one talked about how great it will be to be with all our friends every day, like school without the schoolwork. We daydreamed about how our bodies will always be strong and healthy, how we’ll climb mountains without getting tired. We speculated about whether we’ll be able to fly or breathe underwater, whether there will be romance—typical teenager stuff. Then one of the kids asked the mom, “What are you most excited for about heaven?”
I have never forgotten her answer. This woman was a devoted follower of Christ; in fact, she was one of the most committed servants in our church. But this is what she said: “Oh, honey, you know, I don’t have time to think about that kind of thing. When you get older you’ll be too busy with real life to fantasize about stuff like that. You kids will find you have a lot of life ahead of you before you have to worry about what comes after. Right now I just have to be focused on making it through the next week.”
She completely popped our balloon. We were thoroughly enjoying daydreaming about the details of eternal life, and she stomped all over our fun by playing the “adult” card and reminding us that real life is about paying the bills and getting the kids to soccer practice. As you might imagine, the conversation died at that point, at least until we were out of the car.
Thirty years have passed since that car ride, and two things have happened. First, I have reached the age that woman was on that day. I am now the one paying the bills and getting the kids to soccer practice. I can relate to her comments now. My life is consumed by responsibilities, and there isn’t a lot of time for daydreaming. Second, a number of years ago that woman fell ill and passed away. Her entire reality now is the eternity she didn’t have time to think about. Thankfully, she was a believer. Today, she knows the answers to all the questions we had about heaven. One day we will see her there, and it will be a joyful reunion.
The Bible has a lot to say about being responsible. God wants us to do our jobs, raise our kids, serve our communities, and share the Gospel. There are important things to do here and now. He certainly doesn’t want us to daydream our lives away. But the Bible also isn’t shy about saying that heaven is coming, and we should be excited about it. Between now and our trip to San Diego, I will get up every morning and faithfully serve my family and my church, and I’ll find a lot of joy in it. But I will also find joy in knowing that something good is coming.
God made us so we need to have hope, and He has given us plenty of reasons to be hopeful. This week, in the midst of your responsibilities, take a few minutes and imagine heaven. Imagine eternal health and happiness, and more importantly, eternal worship and holiness. My guess is, it won’t make you any less productive, and it just might make you a little more joyful.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”—Revelation 21:3-5