Heaven: Going Home
There is a song that I have not heard for years that I really like. It’s called “I want to see heaven.” By Bob Carlisle.
The deep longing in the words gathers up the dreams I have and the peace I know is coming. It expresses all the love for the homeland of our souls. It goes like this:
“Sometimes this tired old world, starts bringing my heart down, but you’ve got to bear the cross, if you want to wear the crown, I often get impatient, as Father time keeps dragging on. I’ve waited through the darkness, now I’m ready for the dawn. I’m ready for the dawn.”
“I want to see heaven, where the faithful carry on, I want to see heaven, O Lord. I want to see heaven, where the pain of sin is gone, in heaven, O Lord, I want to see heaven.”
I want to see heaven. We all do, don’t we? We are homesick for a place we have never been, a place we have never seen, but a place we all belong.
So why do we keep going down here? You know, some hardly do. There are some people in this parish/place that as much as I love them, I can’t spend much time around them because they poison me, they drag me down with their doom and gloom, their complaining and grumbling.
They see the world supposedly going to pieces around them, they see war and drought and they tell me how weak and stupid young people are these days
They talk about the price of this and the cost of that and what this government and that multi-national corporation are doing, and how there is terrorism and it goes on and on into a litany of despair.
And sometimes, that person is me.
Why do we go on? If it is all that bad, why do we get out of bed in the morning?
We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We long to be home with the Lord, so why do we go on? Why do we keep slogging against the prices and the trends of our modern world, why do we keep fighting when it looks like we are losing?
I don’t have to tell you why. Paul tells you why in the very next verse. He says:
We don’t let how things look get to us, because we don’t walk by sight! We walk by faith! There comes a point when it becomes clear that some people’s constant worry, that my constant worry is a faith issue, or rather, a lack of faith issue! We can’t leave it up to God, we think that we can do something about it ourselves by worrying. WRONG! Have some faith! It’s not our world, it’s God’s world. We don’t have the right to wrestle control of it and responsibility for it away from God.
We go on in this life, and we are confident, Paul says. We would rather be at home in the Lord, sure, but we are not, so set about pleasing him, because one day you and I will be there with him.
This life, it is an adventure, but it is not THE adventure. It is not the greatest one, or the one for which we were created.
In the Old Robin Williams movie about Peter Pan called “Hook”, captain hook says to Peter “Prepare to die”, and Peter replies: “to die would be an awfully great adventure”
Don’t lose sight of the next life.
Paul says: If it is only for this life that we have faith, then we are to be pitied more than fools.
All that fear and worry, all that walking by sight and not by faith, is not the way for a Christian to walk. It is looking through the eyes of this world, and you know what? We are not of this world! We do our best in it, we try to make our way, and we provide for our children, but then we step back and see things the way that God sees them, not the way the world sees them.
We cannot forget that this is not our home.
If we worry so much about all those things here in this life, usually it is because of a wish to control them, and that shows a lack of faith because it means we don’t believe that God is really in control, and we aren’t willing to let him have control.
If you think you can run things better than God, then you are making yourself higher than God, and he told us in the first of his commandments, “You shall have no other Gods!” That includes yourself, you know. Don’t put yourself and your ability to control the world above God and his ability. It is a sin! A sin against the very first commandment!
Sometimes now I challenge people (and at times I challenge myself) when they get going on how bad things are, to think about what would happen if all the things we worry about in life actually went wrong.
What if we were left with no home, no family, no food, no farm, if we had war, persecution and strife, and all we were left with was our faith in God: where would we be? Do you know what Paul’s answer is to that question? More than conquerors. Victors, winners.
Luther put it well in his famous hymn: A Mighty Fortress. The Battle Hymn of the reformation: And take they our life, goods fame child and wife,
Though these all be gone, yet have our foes not won.
The kingdom ours remaineth.
We have been given faith. In that faith we have peace. The peace that Jesus gives, the Jesus who wills us not to be afraid, who tells us not to worry. Close your earthly eyes and see with the eyes of faith. And help me when I get scared to do the same. We can do that, you know. God has given us the faith to do that. He has given us the peace.
Now let go of the fear that holds on to you. You don’t have to worry any more. That worry, that fear over this life belongs to the old creation, the old self, the earthly self, but that is already gone. For you who are in Christ, the old has already passed away, the new has come. You are heavenly citizens, not earthly ones.
Walk by faith.
We will be there one day. We will see heaven. We will go home. Rest in that promise. Go on in this life determined to let others know that same peace, so that they can know that there home is waiting for them, too.
And don’t worry. When it is all over, we will see, every one, the same thing that the first martyr of the Christian Church, Stephen saw, the son of man standing at the right side of the Father. Do you get the significance of that? Not sitting, but standing, as you do when an honoured guest comes in: what a welcoming committee. God himself is waiting to welcome us home.
Peace be with you.