At age 66, I’m healthy, I love my life and I have been blessed beyond measure. But I’m tired of waiting to go to heaven. I’d like to go now. Is this wrong?
A: It makes more sense than you realize, and no, it’s not wrong. The Apostle Paul also wished for his heavenly home; mentioning his longing many times in both of his letters to the Corinthian church. I think if we read Christ’s moments in Gethsemane again, we’ll see that our savior longed for home, too. Wanting to go to heaven is a normal thought for a mature Christian. We’ve finally understood that whatever Earth has offered - while it’s been grand - cannot fully satisfy. Once we receive Christ and are transformed by Him, we realize that what we want isn’t here, it’s there. I confess that I live in that emotional place quite a lot. Certainly, there are many of us thinking along these lines as we linger too long on news shows that rob our hope, feed our fears and cause despair all day and all night. We long for relief. We long for home.
The Lord has tenderly taught me that when I’m feeling most like leaving the planet, it’s because I’m focused on myself. It’s when I’m thinking, “I’m bored with this and ready for something more.” Or, “I’m so tired of the same old frustrations, problems and struggles.” Or, “When I’m with you, God, I feel complete. I want to go be with you all the time.”
Yet, each one of those statements has “I” in them. We desire our race to be finished because our personal agendas have run their courses and we’re ready to move on now. The next step in graduating to a new level in God isn’t going to heaven. It’s realizing that God is asking for our partnership in bringing heaven here. He’s saying, “Will you deny yourself and devote your life to me?” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:24, NASB).
If we do this, we soon realize that living in response to Father God in every way possible is fully satisfying. It’s what I call the Matthew 6:33 moment: Seek first the Kingdom of God. We don’t look inward during decision-making or scheduling our day, for example, if we’re living a Matthew 6:33 lifestyle. Instead, our priorities consider the world around us; the environment, other people, our ministry, bearing the fruits of the Spirit, etc. Is my personal agenda helping to expand Christ’s kingdom on earth or build my own empire? Is my schedule filled with self-important details or Holy Spirit directives?
Most Christians are taught to “do unto others,” so we fill our lives up with all kinds of tasks like missions, outreach, church work and volunteerism because it appears to be all about others. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all about God. In a general sense, unless our daily lives - moment by moment, decision by decision - are answering the question “How may I serve you, Lord,” we are not entering into the highest level of a Christian walk quite yet.
I know you thank God for your health and wealth and blessings. I am not at all saying you’re a selfish, shallow person. And I truly hear you that going home right now feels like the perfect plan (while the world around us spirals in chaos). But God needs us to partner with him, especially now. There is much more of God to know and to experience before we’re in heaven. This terrestrial plane needs devoted followers of Christ to create homes, atmospheres, workplace environments, churches, public forums and courtrooms that have one goal: Jesus Christ and Him glorified. If we make our lives about that, the earth will respond with change and the holes in our souls will be filled to overflowing with the desire to live and prosper all the more.
We’re not done until God says so, anyway. We may as well go whole-hog on loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Is he worthy of that much effort? Yes.
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Ask Pastor Adrienne column: I want my life to be over