C.S. Lewis said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”/1 The person who is captivated with the glory of heaven will be most adept at seeking others to accompany them on their journey.
The Apostle Paul had been honored to see Paradise and he came back a changed man (2 Corinthians 12:1-5). God gave him a glimpse of glory and he heard “inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4, NKJV). Having this majesty before his eyes, he became a man moved by a restlessness for a better homeland. One wonders if Paul awoke to this vision each and every day. Undoubtedly, these memories were his constant companions during his days behind bars.
Paul drew upon this brush with glory and wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). This world was no longer his home, but a way station on the road to God’s throne. He was fired with the beauty of Paradise. It lifted his steps and stilled his fears (2 Corinthians 11:22-28). Faith in the promises of God became a key to the ultimate rest from his labors rather than a simple theological concept.
Paul had a “desire to depart.” The word “desire” is translated “lust” in several passages. While “lust” carries a negative connotation, it nonetheless means that Paul had an “overwhelming craving” to go to heaven./2 His insatiable desire needs to be ours, also. We should never be satisfied with this world. We should always be seeking a “better, that is a heavenly country” where pain, death, and heartache have ceased to exist (Hebrews 11:16; Revelation 21:4).
Paul’s “desire to depart” uses the imagery of a ship weighing anchor for the final journey home. Setting sail as the ship begins knifing its way into the glorious sunset, waves parting to let it pass. Relaxing and allowing the wind and spray to caress our face, we dream of seeing the sweet face of Jesus and hearing, “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
It has been said that heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Jesus said he would come and receive us to himself so we could be with him for ever (John 14:1-6). When he does so, the weight of this life will slip away as the scales fell off of the eyes of the blind man (Acts 9:18). Then the comfort that cannot be imagined will envelop us for all eternity.
Richard Baxter wrote, “Why are not our hearts continually set on heaven? Why dwell we not there in constant contemplation? Bend thy soul to study eternity, busy thyself about the life to come, habituate thyself to such contemplations, and let not those thoughts be seldom and cursory, but bathe thyself in heaven’s delights.”/3
Heaven is the mission of our existence. In doing so, we bring glory to God in every way we can (Ephesians 3:20,21). God’s arms become our resting place. His words become our music and his plan, our pathway. We hold him dear so that he will never depart (Hebrews 13:5). Faith in him becomes the fuel of our days. Let us be filled with the glory of heaven and never be satisfied with anything less.
1/ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, Collier Books, 1952), 118.
2/ Christopher Leonesio, managing editor. American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition (New York, Dell Publishing, 2001), 503.