Longing for Heaven

Shortly after college, I read a book where the author described how he “longed for heaven.” At that time, it had never occurred to me to be excited about heaven. It never occurred to me that eternity was going to be better than life right now. Things were good.

But in the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic twice for work. I spent my days meeting with men and women who were living in the kind of poverty where electricity was a luxury enjoyed only a few hours a week, holes riddled tin rooftops, and children played on dirt floors.

However, the more time I spent walking through these communities, the more I was overwhelmed with one recurring thought:

This is not how it’s supposed to be. 

This is not how God intended it, for his sons and daughters to be barely surviving. And in that moment, I couldn’t help but long for heaven. Standing on dirt roads, surrounded by the sights and smells of extreme poverty, I couldn’t help but long for the day when these beautiful men, women, and children would no longer experience such brokenness.

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Three big questions

Lately I’ve been asking myself three big questions that have been shaping the way I view the world and live my life.  These questions have been rattling around in my brain, making it difficult for me to walk very far outside of God’s will before I hear his voice calling me back.  The past few months I’ve had an increasing need and desire to draw closer to my Savior, because I’ve realized I can’t answer the big questions without his continual presence in my life.

How am I different from the world? I’ve been thinking about how my life must look to non-believers.  I want them to see my life, the way I live and spend money, the relationships I’m in and activities I join, and say, “Wow, there’s something different about her!”  I want to live a life that forces those around me to be curious about why I stand out.  I want to stop giving the people in my life a reason to doubt or question God’s existence.

Francis Chan sums this up perfectly in his book Crazy Love:

“We need to stop giving people excuses not to believe in God. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘I believe in God, just not organized religion’. I don’t think people would say that if the church truly lived like we are called to live.”

How will I be remembered when I leave this Earth? This question haunts me often, especially when I think about the briefness of life.  I need to stop saying, “I have the rest of my life to live for Jesus.” I don’t want people to spend one day at my funeral talking about whether or not I was a nice person who worked hard and loved my family.  Although those things are important, they should be the baseline for my life as a Christ-follower. I want to offer God more than nice and working hard. I want to live a life that forces non-believers to question their lack of joy, love and hope and seek after the life I’ve found in Jesus.

What will Jesus say to me when I arrive in heaven? I’ve always believed that all Christ-followers will be held accountable for their actions when they arrive at the gates of heaven. But I’ve been challenged more recently to ask myself, “What will Jesus say to YOU?” What will the God of the universe have to say about all of the sarcastic jabs I’ve made to his beloved children? What will my Creator say about each time I stood in front of the mirror to criticize myself or pointed out the flaws in others? Will he even have to say anything at all, or will his Fatherly love, compassion and disappointment bring me to my knees in shame?

I don’t want my Father to be ashamed of me. I want him to be proud of the way I lived for him: enduring times of struggle and hardship by seeking his will, loving his children unconditionally and sharing his grace and mercy fervently.

This post was inspired by my friend and pastor of Victory Church, Curt Seaburg.  On his blog this past week, he encouraged me with this, and I hope it encourages you too:

2 Tim. 3:12 – “In fact, everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 

People are going to make fun of you.  We don’t let it crush us, we endure it.  It’s tough when you’re young, but it intensifies as you get older.  Here’s what I know, don’t worry if you’re being persecuted for Christ, worry if you’re not.  Because if you’re not be persecuted (AT SOME LEVEL) … you should probably ask yourself, am I truly different?