Because I grew up as a pastor's daughter, I have gone to church about three times a week for my whole life. So for as long as I can remember, I have known that this earth is not really my home. Rather, Heaven is the home that I look forward to. The Bible states that because I have placed my faith in the cross of Christ my citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20). Growing up, I knew about the promises of Heaven and I could have answered all the Sunday School questions about Heaven.
But there is a huge difference between knowing something and it being a reality in your life. All my life I have heard people talk about "longing for Heaven," but I never really understood why. Yes, I wanted to be in the Lord's presence and I wanted the removal of suffering. However, in many ways I was completely content here on earth. There were too many things that I wanted to do and experience on earth that I really wanted Heaven to hold off.
Since my sister's diagnosis, I have been contemplating this idea of longing for Heaven. It has only been recently that I have really come to understand how painful life is. I have been reading through a book by Kevin DeYoung called The Good News We Almost Forgot which basically overviews the essential beliefs of the Christian faith (By the way, I love DeYoung's books. I read Just Do Something and Why We Love the Church a few years ago, and I am also currently reading Freedom and Boundaries). In his book he states, "Joy is always mingled with pain. Delight is always interrupted by suffering." Sin and pain truly taint every experience. My marriage to my husband is wonderful, but we still fight. My daughter is a huge blessing in my life, but I frequently fail her as a mother. I experience great joy when she hugs me and great frustration when she can only seem to say "no."
During my student teaching, my students were supposed to write a paper about an event that impacted their lives. As a result, I received papers that recounted horrible events and a tremendous amount of pain. I was frequently brought to tears grading these papers, and at the end my heart cried "This is not how life was intended!"
So lately I have been thinking about what pure joy is really like. I have experienced a great deal of joy and happiness in my life, but all of that is a glimpse of what is to come. What will an eternity be like where I am not only in the presence of my Lord, but joy will finally be made complete? What will it be like to experience joy the way that God does? Joy will no longer be tainted by selfish or prideful motivations or by difficult circumstances. I cannot even imagine. So now I groan with creation (Rom. 8:22) for the removal of sin. And I am actively remembering that I am a citizen of Heaven so that I will remember to act like it. May I represent my Lord well.