Going Home

The anticipation of getting there is often unbearable. “Are we there yet” is not an expression limited to a child in the car-seat; many of the pleasurable experiences God has blessed us with in this life are intensified by the anticipation of their realization. I can still remember the excitement of driving under the horned scull of an Angora billy-goat wired above and between two massive cedar gateposts leading to Granny and Granddad’s home-place. All the fun a kid could imagine lay beyond that gate: building hideouts in the hay barn, cool and refreshing afternoons spent swimming in the Nueces River, and conversations on the front porch with Granddad about the mysteries of life.

Paul must have been brimming with anticipation when he penned a word of encouragement to his Philippian brethren, saying: “our citizenship is in heaven” (cf. Philippians 3:20-21). Someday, by the power of Jesus Christ, we are going home.

The journey, however, is another matter. There are those times when we are discouraged by the inevitable pit stops inherent in a long journey (Hebrews 12:1). They seem to delay progress but are as essential as they are inconvenient. Refueling is a necessity and without it, we faint (Hebrews 10:24-25). Then, there is the unfortunate detour, sometimes due to unexpected construction (Romans 8:28) and at other times because of that ugly old pride factor that foregoes the obvious: we ignore the map (Psalm 119:105). Even the natural discomfort and exhaustion that intensifies as the journey draws to a close can become oppressive (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7). But, knowing what awaits at journey’s end is worth the trip.

Paul was writing from prison to a church in the midst of a military town whose population was largely composed of members of that same Roman army enforcing his incarceration. Still he found courage and joy in the prospect of home: Heaven. He knew this was just one more minor pit stop along life’s road, an insignificant detour that offered scenery yet to be appreciated and used to the advantage of the Kingdom. And so he would preen about the advances he had made in Caesar’s very own backyard (Philippians 1:12). Where bondage limited his progress in one arena, he knew another door of opportunity would present itself in another (1 Corinthians 16:9). The fact that his work in the Gospel could not be stifled only elevated his sense of purpose and confidence in his final destination (2 Timothy 4:8).

“Our citizenship is in heaven,” Paul said. We are a part of a “family in heaven” (Ephesians 3:15). Our journey’s end is a place where joys and wonders transcend our wildest imaginations. How can we allow the trial of the journey to constitute an obstacle to eternal bliss? In lieu of fussing and worrying about the minutia of day-to-day struggles, we must focus on the big picture: we’re going home! Our Father beckons us from the front porch of Heaven, promising peace and comfort and consolation that comprise the essence of an eternity in bliss hitherto at best a dream… and the anticipation is barely bearable.

JDS