Several miles from where I sit, there are a few rolling acres of untamed grass, wildflowers, and trees, in the middle of which stands a house—or most of a house, rather. Construction is ongoing. Every few days or so, my wife and I venture over to the property with our three boys in tow to look around, breathe the air, and dream about what our lives will be like when we finally get to live there.
Right now, our future home is more of an empty shell—there are no floors, no doors, no appliances. Electricity and running water are still a few weeks out. There is no heat, no A/C, and the screened-in porch is currently screenless. If we tried to live there, it would feel a lot more like a camping trip than a home. The place just isn’t ready for us yet.
Even so, when we return to our current abode, we can’t escape the temporary nature of our living situation. Our growing family outgrew this house some time ago, and so, we’re making do with the space we have, trying to work and homeschool and live and play without stepping on each other’s toes. At the same time, closets and corners are brimming with furniture, fixtures, and finishes, all waiting to be set free in our new house. It’s hard to feel comfortable. We can’t go more than a few minutes without remembering we don’t fit here anymore.
We’re not the only ones, of course. Every follower of Jesus knows what it feels like to be caught between two homes. Each one of us is a citizen of a kingdom that has not yet come in its fullness; we were born again to live in a new creation, and yet the old one keeps on chugging along with its pain and sorrow and death still taunting us.
When I think about it, my heart aches for home, the place Scripture describes like this:
“Now God himself will have his home with them—“God-with-them” will be their God! He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and eliminate death entirely. No one will mourn or weep any longer. The pain of wounds will no longer exist, for the old order has ceased.”Revelation 21:3–4 TPT
The old order has ceased. That’s what we’ll say someday. And then we’ll look back upon this age and remember what it was like to live in a world ravaged by sin. We’ll remember sitting in the doctor’s office and learning our test results came back positive. We’ll remember how someone we loved walked out on us, and the emptiness we felt for months thereafter. We’ll remember years that saw our money dwindle and the bills multiply. We’ll remember listening to the news of the world, with too many tragedies to take in all at once. We’ll remember each of the funerals that came too soon.
On that day, we’ll crumble in the arms of our Savior, and he’ll wipe away our tears one last time. We’ll recall the troubles of this life, but it will be a remembrance without mourning or pain. Such an experience doesn’t seem possible, but in God’s glorious provision, that’s the way it will be.
So, here and now we have a choice to make. We can attempt to numb the feeling of homesickness by seeking refuge in the comforts of this world. We can try to imagine this broken home is as good as it gets and find ways to amuse ourselves while we wait out the clock. Or we can live in light of the future. We can step into the discomfort of the in-between space. We can choose to take up our mantle as aliens and strangers in this far country, as ambassadors of the heavenly Jerusalem, as the cherished bride of Christ, awaiting the home he’s now preparing for us.
In short, we can be people who choose to live in hope, because we know how the story ends.
I know—someone out there is reading these words and thinking, Well, that’s awfully Pollyanna. This world can be so jagged and cruel. How can I deny reality like that? But to live in hope is not to deny reality; rather, it is to take a bold step into it.
You see, this world is wasting away. This age, with all its death and despair and disappointment, will not last. The deeper reality—the true nature of things—is found in the kingdom. To live in its light is to embrace the created order as it was always meant to be.
It must be said that living in hope does not mean we pretend there are no hardships this side of glory. On the contrary, we of all people should be the most sensitive to loss and injustice, because we know these things break our Father’s good heart. Just remember that the Lord himself wept at Lazarus’ tomb—“tears streamed down Jesus’ face” (John 11:35 TPT)—not because Lazarus was dead, for of course he knew he was about to raise him to new life, but because death is a routine tragedy in this world, relentlessly stalking the people he loves. He mourned because death is an invader in God’s creation. He mourned because Mary and Martha were devastated at the loss of their brother, and “the Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain” (Psalm 34:18 TPT).
So, embrace the discomfort. Lift your head high, brothers and sisters, knowing that this world, as it exists right now, is not your final home. Every day, take some time to look around for signs of the new creation dawning, breathe in the air of the kingdom, and dream about what your life will be like when it finally arrives.
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