Sometimes I want heaven now. Not that I want to die and go to heaven, but I desire heaven in this life.
It was Jesus who taught us to pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So is this like asking God to make things as right on earth as they are in heaven?
I admit that sometimes I want the “here and now” to blend more clearly with the “not yet.”
Perhaps my work as a pastor makes me a little more painfully aware of how much is not right in this world. To borrow the title of one of my favorite books, this world is “Not the way it’s supposed to be.”
When I say I want heaven now, I mean that I want things to be the way they’re supposed to be. Unrealistic? Perhaps. But my relationship with the God of heaven causes me to long for a heaven-like place—to long for righteousness —for things to be right.
What would this kind of a world look like?
I envision a place described in the New Testament book of Revelation. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
If I long for a world absent death, mourning, crying and pain, then I long for things to be on earth as they are in heaven. I desire that, “the dwelling of God to be with men.”
Obviously, when I long for these things, I desire something far different from my world. And some might think of it as unrealistic to long for such a world when the real world is filled with death, mourning, crying and pain. Yet my longing is very real.
And I believe that God’s Spirit in me is the cause of my desire for a world filled with the presence of God and absent the things his presence removes.
It is God who will wipe every tear from their eyes. Yes, there is much to cry about in our world – much to mourn over. But Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). They are blessed because their comforter is the God who wipes tears away.
When tears fill our eyes, we need God to wipe them away. Tears are a universal human language. But imagine a world where there is nothing to cry over. Imagine a world without pain.
How do I reconcile my desire for heaven with life in the present world?
I think the answer to this question will unlock the door to living with sanity and hope in a world of death, mourning, crying and pain.
For life to be as close as possible to what it was meant to be, it must be lived in the presence of the one who comforts mourners and wipes tears away. It also must be lived like the one who comforts (II Corinthians 1:3-4).
This requires one to live by faith not by sight.
The evil, violence, unfaithfulness and sin of this world will not get the last word.
We must live by faith in the one seated on the throne, the who said, “I am making everything new!” and then said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He is the source of life and hope.
We find courage, hope and sanity when living for the one who said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.”
Yes, “To depart and be with Christ is far better” (Philippians 2:23), but living now in His presence by faith gives strength for the journey in a world of death, mourning, crying and pain.
To him who is thirsty, He said, “I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Are you thirsty?
Drink freely and live—now.