Week 2 Advent Reflections: Heaven

Not Made For Here.  

I love the way a Kiwi musician paraphrased C. S. Lewis, “if I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was not made for here”.  Do you ever feel, “not quite at home” or “not quite where you belong”?  I hope so!  I certainly do.  I’ve come to believe that that in fact is the proper state for all true Christians – all full Christians.  We were made to dwell eternally in the presence of God.  Through sin we have separated ourselves from our God and from his presence, and this life is about turning away from all that hinders us from being in his presence, and preparing ourselves to dwell with him forever, in heaven.  You see, you and I were not made for here.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  

Philippians 4:8 NIV

God Dwelling with Man. 

I love the description of heaven we find in the Book of Revelation (appropriately named for sure).  “The dwelling of God will be with men.”  The river of the water of life will be flowing freely and abundantly from the throne.  Night shall be no more.  There will be no need for a lamp (“artificial lighting”) because the true light, the Light of the World, the Lamb of God, will be its light.  The tree of life will have a different type of fruit every month (now is that cool or what?)!  And even the leaves will contain healing powers!  So prepare yourself now for the glory that awaits you then.  Be found ready – be found worthy to enter fully the glory for which you were created!

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.  

Revelation 21:22-27 NIV

Just Imagine. 

And it goes on.  Just imagine a day when every tear will be wiped from your eyes – a day when there will be no more pain, no more crying, no more death anymore!!  All that is dark will be made light.  All sadness will be turned to joy.  All discouragement and despair will be transformed into hope.  This is heaven.  This is the place for which we were created.  This is the place that God has prepared for us from the beginning.  Do you believe that?  This is the place that God has prepared us for from the beginning.  Everything that is torn, divided, confused, strayed … will be restored, once and for all.  May the Lord use this season as a winnowing fork in his hand, separating that which will pass away from that which will abide forever.  And may our longing for this glorious day drive us to live in such a way so as to hasten its coming.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.  

Revelation 22:1-5 NIV

The Glory that Awaits.  

If our hope and our eyes are truly set on heaven, on that kingdom which is to come, then we too can say with Paul that “these present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that awaits us”.  As a friend of mine put to song, “brief life is here our portion, short sorrow, short lived care”.  What a great perspective for the true believer in Jesus to have and to live.  Life here really is short.  Life here really is temporary and passing away.  Life here is “in part” and “incomplete” and “profoundly lacking”.  It is filled with pains and sorrows and sufferings.  But I’ve got good news for you – this is all nothing compared to the glory that awaits!  Do you believe that?  Does that all-important truth invade your daily existence?  Are this life’s pains and sufferings transformed for you by the glory that awaits?

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  

Romans 8:18-21 NIV

“Spiritual Bends” 

I don’t know if you ever experience what I call “heavenly heartache”.  It goes something like this.  God is so good, so loving, so marvelous, that when I ponder his mercies I can’t really get my head around it.  I find myself so overwhelmed that I both find myself delighting in giving myself to God as fully as I am able and simultaneously experiencing this piercing sense of how inadequate and incomplete my response always is.  It’s something like a horrible existential case of what I call the “spiritual bends” (you know, the problem divers have when they come up too quickly).  I suppose it is just a manifestation of life in this passing age and life outside the “confines” of heaven our true home.  It exposes our humanity.  A dear friend of mine talks about “a tangible presence and at the same time a profound loneliness” – that kind of gets at it as well.  Others refer to it as “the pain of separation”.  Whatever you call it, let us embrace the God who has made us and calls us to himself, and also the temporary heartache that that involves until we see him face to face.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  

Romans 8:22-23 NIV

True Citizenship.  

“Heaven is my home, I am kingdom bound, once I was lost but in Christ I am found.”  Those words from a song of a friend of mine are a marvelous expression of an all-important truth.  Paul proclaims it this way – “our commonwealth (our true citizenship) is in heaven”.  Sure I am an American.  Sure I live in the UK and sure I may apply for UK citizenship (it has some advantages for travel though I’m not so sure about the swearing allegiance to the queen part of it, but anyway …).  But ultimately neither of these is my true citizenship.  To neither of these fine countries do I truly belong.  From neither of these fine nations do I receive my true identity, and in neither of these places will I “settle down” and “make a home”.  I long to live fully under the reign of God.  I desire to live his way and follow his laws, knowing that only in living under his full reign will I truly prosper.  Where is your true citizenship?  Where do you truly belong?  Where is home for you?

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  

Philippians 3:20-21 NIV

A Thinning Veil.  

While we begin to live the heavenly life here in this life, we can only live it in part.  While we begin to see heavenly realities here in this life, we can only see them but dimly and as through a veil.  But I’ve got good news for you.  The veil grows thinner!  With each passing year leading us just that little bit closer to the Lord, we see more clearly and can follow more nearly.  As Thomas Kelly writes, “eternity is at our hearts – pressing upon our time-torn lives”.  The hound of heaven pursues us.  Heaven itself hounds us.  We draw nearer.  The veil which separates us from God thins.  Let us draw near with full confidence.  Let us press through the thinning veil and enter more fully into the place he prepares for us.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  

Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Click on links below for each week’s reflections:

The Daily Reflections for the Advent Season was first published in Daily Meds from the Q Source © 2012 by Dave Quintana.

Top photo credit: Burning candles and gold plated cross image, from Bigstock.com, (c) by  berkay, and Stock Photo ID: 15622394

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