Within the heart of every person there is a yearning, a longing for something or someone. Often it is hard to pinpoint this longing, because we are so busy with the distractions around and because we don’t want to see how empty we are. So many people try to fulfill this yearning by looking towards the material world. They chase their dreams: if only that job promotion would come or that new car could be bought… but sadly they are left empty. They turn to drugs, pornography, alcohol, anything to numb the longing inside of them. Others try fulfilling this longing by seeking after love and are left always left wanting more. The American dream is built upon this inner longing, with the pursuit of happiness being a core value of this dream. People pursue happiness, yet so many are left wondering where this true happiness can be found.
This is what the preacher in Ecclesiastes was searching for: some meaning to life, something that would offer fulfillment. He states, “All things are full of labor; Man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing” (1:8). This preacher, King Solomon, had everything that a person could desire for that time period. He had untold wealth, great wisdom, his kingdom was at peace, he could afford every luxury and whim of the heart. Yet he felt this great emptiness inside of him, and on his journey to find satisfaction he sadly allowed his many wives to turn his heart to idols (1 Kings 11:4).
It was Augustine of Hippo who stated this yearning so well when he wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” So often, we try to still our restless hearts by turning to the creation instead of the Creator. Though this creation is good and wonderfully amazing, it can never still the inner longing of the soul. Blaise Pascal wrote that inside of us there is an infinite abyss that can only be filled with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God Himself. These men realized that inside the human heart there is a thirst for something more, and only God is big enough to quell this thirst.
What are you looking forward to?
Ask this question of a child and they will give you an answer that looks just a few days or weeks into the future. Perhaps they are looking forward to spending a day with their friends or having a birthday party. Ask this question of an adult and they tend to have a little further-reaching outlook on life. Maybe they are looking forward to paying off a mortgage or even retirement. But what would happen if you would pose this question to a Christian? Often in our modern, affluent age, the things that the Christian looks forward to are no different than others around them. We have the same goals and aspirations. In many ways, we have made heaven here on earth. Our basic needs are taken care of and often we have money left over to enjoy life. What is there to look forward to?
This stands in sharp contrast to how the early Christians viewed life and what they looked forward to. Peter writes that since this world will one day dissolve, we are to live a life that is defined by the word “godliness,” our conduct is to be holy, and we are to be looking forward to that day when a new heaven and earth will be created in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:11-14). In other words, we are to be yearning for heaven. It was this yearning for a better world, a city that God was building, that caused Abraham to leave his country and his family and set out on a path of obedience and trust. He was willing to sacrifice everything, because he had a yearning for a better place.
How often do you think about eternity? Do you yearn for heaven? Heaven is a wonderful place; it is a place that will be beyond our wildest imagination. When the Apostles wrote about heaven, you can sense how they struggled to describe it. Paul writes “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV). John writes about the City of God in Revelation and describes its radiance like a most rare jewel. Its foundations were adorned with every kind of jewel, its streets were made of pure gold, and God’s glory was fully revealed. The material things that are often treasured in this present age will be walked upon in heaven.
This will be a place were there will be no more evil, no more violence, no more hate; instead, love will reign. There will be no more death, no more pain, no more sorrow, instead God will wipe away every tear we have cried in this life and we will experience eternal joy. Everything will be made new. Our bodies will no longer ache, we will no longer need surgeries or even dental work. There will no longer be any painful goodbyes, just perfect delight in God’s presence.
This is what our future holds as Christians. This is what we are to be looking forward to and it is this yearning for heaven that ought to transform the way we live our life today. Because heaven is a reality, we are to be storing up treasures in heaven and not on earth (Matthew 6:19-20). Because the glory of the coming age is going to be so great, we can bear the sufferings of our present age as we wait in great expectation for the world to come (Romans 8:18). And as already noted above, because we are yearning for the new heaven and earth, we live a life that is pleasing to God.
What we are looking forward to will shape the way we live today. If we are looking forward to retirement, then we will be saving money in a retirement fund, if we are looking forward to paying off our mortgage, then we will put aside extra money each month; but if we are looking forward to heaven, then we will be investing our energies, our talents, and our material goods in such a way that it will bring dividends for eternity. What are you looking forward to?