When I don’t long for heaven

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

These words written by C.S. Lewis in his book “The Problem of Pain” explore an aspect of our souls we can’t wrap our minds around most of the time. The concept of our longing for heaven and for God’s presence is clearly expressed in scripture — Psalm 84:10 and Ecclesiastes 3:11, to name just two passages. We were created for experiencing God’s glory, therefore our longing for heaven makes sense.

But have you ever thought about your life and hoped Jesus wouldn’t take you to heaven just yet?

Earthly longings

John gives us a taste of heaven in Revelation 4, using words our human minds can understand to describe what he saw. And it sounds breathtaking. The most beautiful places on earth are just fuzzy, faded snapshots compared to the majesty of heaven.

Taking those images and, of course, not forgetting the fact that we’ll spend eternity in God’s presence, why would we ever not long for God to whisk us away to our eternal home as soon as possible?

Because there’s a part of us that desires earth more than heaven. Or at least we think we do. We want to get married, have kids, travel the world. Once we get to heaven, we’ve “lost” the opportunity to do all that.

We can’t fully understand what we will do in heaven. Yes, we know we’ll glorify God, but what will that look like for all eternity? When we see the person who was our spouse on earth, what kind of love will we feel? The same love we experience for that other follower of Christ we met just once during our lives on earth? Will we have all our earthly memories of moments spent with those we cherish? Will we love all souls perfectly and equally, therefore stripping our earthly families of any special importance to us?

Maybe you don’t really think about things like this. But if you have ever wondered about heaven, you have most likely wondered about the uncertainties. When faced with these uncertainties, it’s easier to focus on the here and now. The things we long for and can achieve in this life. Before we know it, we become consumed with earthly longings and the desire to fulfill those longings before we die and it’s “too late.”

The thought of your spouse or child or parent loving you no more or less in heaven than a soul who was a complete stranger while on earth is hard to swallow. The only concept of relationships we have is what we experience right now. Our earthly longings for the people in our lives can make heaven’s uncertainties not as appealing at times.

Through rose-colored glasses

We must remember our perspective. Saying we won’t need relationships like marriage and family in heaven because Christ completes that need is a concept easily grasped but not easily accepted from our earthly view. Right now, we need our families, whether they are people we’re related to or people from the Church. They hint at the relationship we will one day have face-to-face with Christ.

It sounds strange, but our most wonderful relationships on earth do not compare to what we will experience in heaven. We only see and understand a part of what our eternal home will be like. The Spirit will fill us with such complete love that we will adore perfectly those whom we love now with our sinful flesh.         

Once we take off the rose-colored glasses with which we view our lives on earth, we will come back to the longing we feel in our heart of hearts for the eternal home Jesus is preparing for us. If He has given us people to cherish while living on a sinful earth, imagine how much deeper our relationships will be in heaven!

This life we live now certainly does have eternal value. God is preparing us in part for what we will experience in full one day. However, we must not cling to an imperfect version of God’s relationship with us. Yes, God commanded us to love and cherish the gifts He has given us in the relationships we have. But let’s remember our first desire should be nothing more than the glory God will reveal to us when we see Jesus with our own eyes and experience the richness of relationship the way it was created to be. May we ask God for this eternal perspective every day of our earthly lives.

Let’s Talk About It: What are earthly desires you have that keep you from desiring heaven? 

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