I’m reading an excellent book called Pastoral Graces by Lee Eclov, in which he says that God’s children have a Spirit-given homesickness about them.
“God gives his people a homing instinct when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us.”
Amidst all the beauties and glories of this summer season, I find a yearning for more. I was winding down a lonely country road last week on my motorcycle and felt both exhilaration and longing. I felt like a kid again: the full-blown aroma of late August wildflowers in my face, the beauty of the trees, hills and pastures around me and a beckoning road in front of me – it was overwhelming…and tinged with longing. And I thought, maybe this is a part of what heaven will be like – an eternal experience of overwhelming beauty and welcoming paths to never-ending joys in a perfect world. Isn’t that at the heart of our homesickness? The intriguing thing about the ministry of the Spirit is that we experience a yearning for a world we’ve never seen. We have a holy nostalgia for a place we’ve never experienced. By the Sprit’s instruction, we know that heaven is home – and get teary-eyed with longing for it.
I love what the writer of Hebrews tells us about Abraham and the saints of old. They were “looking for a city with foundations whose builder and maker is God”. They freely admitted that this world wasn’t home. They were “strangers and aliens on earth…seeking a homeland”. That’s exactly it. God's children can’t help but pine for the place where we truly belong. We live in this world, “longing for a better country, a heavenly one.” Like ET in that old Disney classic, our hearts burn with a longing for “home”.
Just as thoughts of our mortality are to meant to teach us wisdom (Psalm 90:12), thoughts of our immortality are meant to fill us with hope and joy! When Paul recounts the wonder of our mortal bodies being clothed with immortality and the glory of our victory over death in Christ, (1 Cor 15:50-56) he intends these truths to be transformative in day to day life here and now.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15:58
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 Paul speaks of the day of resurrection when Christ returns. We will “meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.” Doesn’t that sound wonderful?! Paul concludes with this command: “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” In a world where so much is broken, where conflict and sin and death are on every side, where our hearts are weary from the war with our own sin – thoughts of going home are meant to give us deep encouragement and joy. We are meant to be people who experience “joy and peace in believing” (Rom 15:13) as we “love His appearing” (2 Tim 4:8). So, take time today to remember heaven. Allow yourself to feel that beautiful homesickness created by the Holy Spirit within you. And be encouraged. We’re almost there.
What Pastor Dale is Reading...
by Lee Eclov
Our own Dave DeWit worked on this book while an editor at Moody Press. It’s a gem. It’s given me a refreshed passion to be a pastor/shepherd. I’m recommending it to all my pastor friends.