Hankering for the Heavenly City

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God… These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:8-10,13-16

The ‘Hall of Faith’ in Hebrews 11 describes many other-worldly-thinkers and doers, men and women of God whose lives were not their own and whose treasure was with God. They were, here on earth, and in the turmoil and hardship of normal work and ministry, of complicated family relationships and moving and travel, fixed on the heavenlies. This perspective identified them and fueled their days.

VIrginia countryside and swept sky, November

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4

How strong is our pull to things of this earth? To the places we love, to comforts of routine and security of our homes and entitlement to the absence of pain and difficulty? Is it greater than our longing to see our Savior’s face, for the heavenly city whose architect and designer is God? Do I consider the gift of my days through the lens of heaven? What evidence is there in how I spend time and money, where I invest talent and energy, that I am looking forward to the heavenly home my Lord is preparing? (John 14:2-3; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… Seek first the kingdom of God.” Matthew 6:19-21,33

Hankering for our heavenly city means we regard ourselves as strangers and aliens here, yet those who live with vital faith that infuses our present with robust hope and meaning. With a limited number of days, we can embrace our opportunities to proclaim and live out the gospel, to feed the hungry with the bread of life.

Lord God, compel me to sojourn toward my sure heavenly destination with a loose hold on things of this earth, generous living for others’ eternal good, and an eye for Your glory.

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