Heaven is a wonderful place
Filled with glory and grace
I want to see my Savior’s face
Heaven is a wonderful place
I was never a child who got homesick easily. While other kids at camp cried over missing their parents, I was content to enjoy my vacation away from my chaotic family. To this day I don’t feel the need to call my family members as often as my friends.
My first real experience with homesickness was near the end of my first semester of college. I had moved halfway across the country from my home in Nebraska to a school in northern California. Too far to go home for weekends or Thanksgiving, and as Christmas and finals approached I longed for the familiar sights and people of home. No riches could compare to what I felt when I finally saw my family for the first time in month. Homesickness is what makes the homecoming so much sweeter.
Shortly after the death of my 3-year-old niece I had a conversation with a friend about death and Heaven and our deceased loved ones. I clearly remember her telling me she had to come to peace with the idea that she may not know or recognize her loved ones in heaven. This was unfathomable to me. In my almost unbearable grief, the one thread of hope I held was the knowledge that my niece was in heaven. And with that knowledge the hope of seeing her again someday. Was I wrong? Was it possible that I would never see her again?
Some Christians will give you this idea. We’ve over-spiritualized Heaven to the point where it sounds boring, or worse undesirable. We make it sound like it’s ungodly to want the comforts of this present life.
Or we’ve been told that Heaven is beyond our understanding and it’s wrong to try to imagine it. They’ll quote 1 Corinthians 2:9 “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him.” We can’t imagine what Heaven will be like, so you may as well not even try. They miss the very next verse: “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” Heaven is not so distant that we can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like.
We are given glimpses of what we can see and know. Heaven is described in real terms. It is a city. It is the dwelling place of God. It is a place with a river and a tree of life. It’s not an ethereal place where we float around as spirits playing harps or sitting through the longest church service imaginable. It is everything we love about this Earth without the curse of sin. What we cannot see we have faith and the love of our father to cling to. For “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
I can still remember the first time I was truly homesick for Heaven. It was in my first year of college. In a moment I saw, I mean I really saw eternity in the presence of God stretching out before me. Heaven was no longer a distant thing—the way a child feels about Christmas in the middle of June. No, it was right there, like Christmas Eve. I truly felt the longing to be there.
That moment was fleeting like trying to hold unto fog. No one can live in a continual state of that kind of deep longing. But I still go back to that moment. I taste the longing once again feel the bitter sweet ache. Each time I feel it, it’s stronger, more real. Maybe that is what people on their deathbeds can see as they prepare to pass into that eternity.
About a year ago, I watched as a woman dying of cancer slowly slipped away. In visits to the hospital during her final days I wondered why she held on for so long if she knew she was heading to an eternity with God, free from the pain and sorrow of this world. It was like lingering in a dark room saying goodbyes delaying for just a moment longer before leaving on an incredible journey
Laura Ingalls Wilder experienced this the night before leaving for a new life and a new home in Missouri with her husband and infant daughter. They sat in her parents’ home in South Dakota, late into the night, singing, talking, and stretching the moments before her departure. Laura knew the moment she left would likely be the last time she saw her parents, the last time they would be together as a family. She had hope for her new life with her family in Missouri, but the goodbye was still difficult.
There’s something about the word HOME that brings up a powerful longing in each of us. Some long for the comfort of home, some long for the people of home, some long for the innocence of childhood and the blissful absence of responsibilities. And some of us long for what home should have been—a place of love and belonging.
So it is ok to be homesick for Heaven. It is natural. We are not supposed to be comfortable on this sin-cursed world. But how do you stay effective for the Kingdom?
My work here is not complete I will press on I will finish the race. My longing for Heaven is what makes me effective for the Kingdom here and now.
How do you use your homesickness for Heaven positively? How do you keep it from making you ineffective in this life?