When I was a child, visiting Papa and Gramma’s was the highlight of the hour. That one place holds so many memories – I easily get nostalgic, going over the times spent there. Running through the “green belt” behind the house, where we’d build awesome forts and hold games of tag and hide and seek… In summer, we would walk down to the nearby park and splash in the lake – the same place where we often held birthday parties. The evening would often wrap up with the inevitable bonfire in the back, roasting hot dogs and brats. No one wanted to leave – in fact, it was the dream of every one of the kids to get to spend the night, waking up to the smell of coffee and of course, breakfast. Not just cereal or oatmeal – never. It would be the whole spread. Pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, toast – all of it, laid out on the counter and table, complimented with orange juice.
These represent happy times for me. We always had so much fun, and the family time was great, I never wanted to leave. But eventually, it would come time, and my parents would round us all up, trying to keep track of all our belongings so nothing would be left behind, and it would be time to leave. There may have been a few rounds of stalling, asking to stay just a little longer – the things kids do. But in the end, we always left. And we were happy enough to do so, much as we wanted to stay. Because, as much as we were having fun, we know it wasn’t our home.
I have a confession to make: I don’t yearn for heaven. I know, it’s shocking. It’s what Every Good Christian does, right? We hear about it in songs, books, sermons – it’s expected that you long for the day when you can go home.
But I’ve never had that. And for a while, this would bother me. Wasn’t I supposed to long for heaven? Shouldn’t I have this aching yearning? But I didn’t.
But then I realized something – it was like Papa and Gramma’s. Not that heaven is like that old place – quite the opposite. Papa and Gramma’s is like this earth. It was fun, and I never quite wanted to leave, and there were definitely some good times there… but it wasn’t home. I’d spend the night now and then, but it wasn’t where I lived my life. I had fun, but I always went home.
And that’s what it’s like for the Christian. We don’t long for heaven because it’s fun and glorious – although that certainly is true. And sometimes, we don’t long for it at all. Now certainly, I’d love to go to heaven, and I know I will someday – but it’s not a yearning for me. A yearning is a deep desire, a burning need for something. It occupies your mind, your thoughts, your waking moments. You find yourself coming back to it, wishing it were here already.
In the time that my husband and I have been in a relationship, we have been apart many times, for various reasons. Our entire dating/engagement period was long distance. Even after we married, there were times that we had to be apart, for whatever reason. Those times were almost crushing in how much we yearned to be back together again. It was necessary, but we both hated it. I missed him, and wanted him near me again. I had a yearning to see my husband. It filled every moment until he returned.
But for heaven, I don’t have that yearning. What I do have is a desire to go home. It doesn’t fill me every waking moment, but it’s there. Sometimes I’ll close my eyes, look for it in my mind, wonder what it’s like. I’ll wonder how much time I have left before I can go home, and wonder if it’s soon or yet far away.
And then I open my eyes and go about my day – and I focus on what’s in front of me. I have fun, I laugh and cry, I enjoy life. Because it’s what I’m meant to do. I reach out to people, forming relationships with those around me, feeling sad over lost ones. I work and I clean house and I enjoy time with family and friends. I live my life.
I continue to look for heaven. On days when the trials are heavy, or when I just can’t shake that sin that so easily besets, I look for the day when I won’t have to deal with either. In the last few weeks, I’ve heard so many reports of people – young people, mostly children – losing the fight for cancer and other illnesses. And it hurts. And times like these, I just want it to be over for the rest of us, too. Let things happen as they will, get it done and over with, and wake up in heaven, and that’s the end of it.
But for right now, I’m young, and full of life. I have trials, but I also have hopes and dreams, things that keep me going. I don’t yearn for heaven – and somehow, I think that’s okay.