There is an old story of a retiring missionary who was on his way home to America and happened to be traveling on the same ship as the president of the United States. As the ship neared the dock, a military band began to play, cheering crowds waving bright banners surged forward, and a red carpet was set in place to welcome the returning president home. The missionary exited the ship unnoticed and feeling very unwelcome and unappreciated.
Mired in self-pity, the aging saint cried out to God, “I have served You well for many years, and this is the welcome I get upon my return home?” God gently, graciously reminded the misguided missionary, “My dear child, you’re not home yet!”
This world is not our home; we are pilgrims passing through this world on our way to the next. Our true home is in heaven, and one day we shall be received with the anthems of the angels! This life is merely a temporary assignment designed to prepare us for eternity.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
They were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13, 16)
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is often called the Bible’s Hall of Fame of Faith. The great heroes of the faith enshrined there understood that this place was not their home and life on earth was not the whole story. By faith they lived as aliens in a foreign land, looking toward the future and their promised heavenly homecoming.
So . . . what are you looking forward to? Is your greatest joy wrapped up in the here and now or the there and then?
Our time here on earth is incredibly short compared to our time in eternity. C. S. Lewis wrote, “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.” We must, as 2 Corinthians 4:18 exhorts us, continually fix our eyes on what is unseen, not what is seen, knowing that one day soon we will receive our Holy Homecoming when we finally arrive at home!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!