“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:12–13, NASB95)
Generally people live the greater part of their lives without any real thought of eternity and any real concern about what is held in store for them. It is when something happens that calls into question the love and security they experience here that many ask about what’s out there. The tension between living on here and passing into eternity is greater in some than others, and it is probably heightened or lessened on some days as opposed to others.
We are relational beings, and we build most of our lives around those relationships with much of our joy arising from the health of them. But when God calls us as one of His children and we place our trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation we enter a whole new awareness. We become dual citizens of a sort. We remain on here in the lives He has granted us with all of the joys and blessing and all of the struggles and even hardships and losses. But we also become aware that there is hope beyond what we can see, and touch, and know. We learn about our God who loves us and who created us to know and love Him, and we learn that what we have here is only a shadow of the depth of love that we will know in His presence. It is pretty mind-boggling to grasp that we have a hope in heaven that will not disappoint and that can surpass our greatest joy here.
But at the same time, we are given the assurance and peace of knowing that God knows each one of us personally and He has individually numbered all of our days according to His plan written for us before there was even one day to our lives. We know that our God could have instantaneously snapped us out of here at the moment we were saved, but He chose to keep us here for so many reasons, of which He tells us some in His Word. And in doing this, He provided for us by giving us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and work in us amazing things and He gave us His church through whom He knits us together to speak to the world and be prepared as the bride for His Son.
As we look to the wonders of God and what He declares about Himself in His Word, we grow in our appreciation of Him and even in that glint in our eyes and the desire in our hearts to be with Him forever. And as we engage in the world, we are encouraged by the wondrous ways in which He works in and through us and others to show us Himself with flesh on. Our relationships here with His children (and even the cutest grand-children ever) point us toward a relationship that we one day will know in fullness. And our relationships here with those who don’t know Him remind us of the work that still needs to be done, that others might also come to know Him as we do. And the rough stuff reminds us of His constancy and His faithfulness.
Some days and some seasons are going to be more joy-filled than others and some come with greater brokenness and longing. This is the tension we know here and now, one which one day will be satisfied fully. But for now we are told to live with the hope of heaven in our hearts and an anchor for our souls.
Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NASB95)
“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6–8, NASB95)
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,” (Philippians 1:21–25, NASB95)
Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (12/15)
Your longing for heaven is good, because it is an extension of your yearning for Me. The hope of heaven is meant to strengthen and encourage you, filling you with wondrous Joy. Many Christians have misunderstood this word hope, believing that it denotes wishful thinking. Nothing could be farther from the truth! As soon as I became your ultimate destination. The phrase hope of heaven highlights the benefits you can enjoy even while remaining on earth. This hope keeps you spiritually alive during dark times of adversity; it brightens your path and heightens your awareness of My Presence. My desire is that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:23–25, NASB95)
“so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:18–20, NASB95)
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NASB95)