A month ago at this time, I was breathing in the intoxicating grandeur of the Rocky Mountains.
We were in Vail, Colorado for a family wedding, and it was pure bliss. The weekend was spent hiking, dining and dancing the night away, and passed altogether too quickly.
When it was time to say goodbye, we all felt like this:
We didn’t want to go home.
In fact, I could’ve stayed there forever, in spite of the waves of altitude sickness that assaulted all of us at some point, irrespective of age or gender.
I was reminded of my daughter, a year and a half earlier, who had been sledding for the first time.
On one of the first occasions that my African-born children ever experienced the exhilarating rush of a sledding hill, my seven-year-old daughter let the adrenaline get to her head. In a moment of boldness, she dove headfirst onto her circular plastic disc, soared down the snow-covered hill, and biffed, chin skidding across the ice. A howl could be heard from the bottom of the hill to the top, and the best I could do was to dab her bloody chin with a used tissue. Over the decibels of her wailing, I asked, “Do you want to go home?”
“Nooo!” she exclaimed adamantly between sobs.
Of course she didn’t want to go home. Why would she?
In comparison to a perfect (albeit slightly bloodied) sledding hill, home was a dull and boring second-class pick.
If you’re a parent, it’s quite likely that when you’ve gone to pick up your kids from a playdate at a friend’s house, you’ve been welcomed with the infamous whine: “I don’t wanna go home!”
I was throwing that same internal tantrum when it was time to leave Vail.
Often, even with bloody chins from sledding hills or sudden nausea from the altitude of the mountains, we would rather stay in the places we’re having fun than to go back home to the daily grind of the normal routine.
And if we’re honest, don’t we sometimes have the same view of heaven, in comparison to the pleasures on earth?
In his book, The Glory of Heaven, John MacArthur writes this:
“I have actually heard Christians say they don’t want to go to heaven until they’ve enjoyed all that the world can deliver. When all earthly pursuits are exhausted, or when age and sickness hamper their enjoyment, then they believe they’ll be ready for heaven. ‘Please God, don’t take me to heaven yet,’ they pray. ‘I haven’t even been to Hawaii!’”
Maybe for you it’s not Hawaii, but there’s likely something on earth that is tempting each of us to stay behind.
Maybe your view of heaven is tainted, and, like Matt Chandler once believed, you think heaven is going to be dull and boring after a while.
In his book, The Explicit Gospel, Chandler recalls his former feelings toward this verse of the song, Amazing Grace:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.
“The picture painted by this great hymn is of an eternal session of praise music. I remember being a bit mortified by this idea after my conversion. Although I loved the Lord, the concept of just singing to the Lord for trillions of years was more than my mind could fathom. I thought, ‘Surely we’d get bored with that.’ Even the most amazing things on earth get a little boring after a while. So how is it that billions of trillions of years from now, I’m still going to be plucking my harp, sitting on my cloud in perfect contentment? … The image is conjured of robe-wearing, harp-playing, eternal song-singing Tom and Jerry heaven. Is that really what heaven will be like?”
If you’ve trusted in Christ for your salvation, then there is a home waiting for you in glory. Jesus himself promised that he has gone ahead to prepare a place for you.
As Christians, are we living as though we’re excited about spending eternity with our Lord?
Or are we pouting and dragging our feet, wishing we didn’t have to leave all that we enjoy here on earth?
Don’t get me wrong .. There is astounding beauty to be found here, and God put it here for our enjoyment.
But it’s temporary.
Not only is it temporary, but it’s only a shadow of things to come. Even the best sledding hill and the most breathtaking mountain range on earth don’t compare to the glory that will be found in heaven for those who love Him.
So let me ask you this:
When the time comes for the Father to call you Home, how will you respond?
Twelve years ago today, on the 2nd of July 2002, I left home.
Not in the rebellious, “I’m-never-coming-back” way, but in the “I’m spending a semester overseas” way.
With the ten-hour layover spent dragging my bags up and down the Frankfurt airport terminal and the seven-hour time difference, it would be two days later before I reached Cape Town, South Africa.
There would be no 4th of July fireworks in that country, except those felt in my chest as I exploded with giddy college-girl excitement and fell in love at first sight with the aerial view of the city that, unbeknownst to me, would become my home for the next ten years.
And somewhere between being sprawled out across multiple airport chairs in Germany, subconsciously drooling on my bag, and then consciously drooling over the breathtaking beauty of The Mother City several flight hours later, He did it.
The Lord took my neatly packaged definition of home, crumpled it up, and tossed it into the southeaster, never to be seen again.
Through ten moves in those next ten years, the Lord would peel back my layered notions, and would slowly and persistently teach me about home. I would long for it, grieve the loss of it, grasp at it, cry over it, watch it slip between my fingers … all to realize that, as Augustine so wisely declared, “our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.”
And that’s the secret. We might grieve over home as though it can be lost, but we just haven’t found it yet.
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:1