The devotional writer says, “God has put in the heart… a longing for himself. The mass of humanity does not understand it. People just know that there are times when they want to be quiet, times when they want to be alone, times when the calendar or the stars or death speaks to them. They hunger and they thirst—but for what?”
Being alone for several days brings out this longing. So do horrible stories in the news, funerals, and sometimes fatigue. It is what some call a homing instinct, a deep and profound sense of wanting to “go home.”
I notice it when life is not satisfying, or when I’m sad for no reason, or even happy for no reason, but sometimes this longing for home hits me at odd moments. I might be driving, or pushing a grocery cart when it sweeps over me and automatically I say, sometimes aloud, that I want to go home.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6–8)
While God blesses my life, I know that this world will never satisfy me completely. No matter what I have or gain, God “put eternity in my heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and it is eternity that I long for, not more stuff or more of anything else, or even to have life totally the way that I want it to be. The ache for eternity, that homesickness for heaven cannot be satisfied by anything less than being with Jesus.
Yet I am here. God wants me to make the best of where I am and do whatever He gives me to do. Paul had that same longing for home, yet knew that God had reasons for him to stay, at least for a few more years…
I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. (Philippians 1:23–24)
Paul’s reason for staying was the reason God gives every Christian. We are not in heaven yet because He has a task for us here. Part of that task is making clear to ourselves and to others the meaning of this hunger in our hearts, this longing that is sometime vague, illusive, and even an unwanted intrusion.
The devotional writer says that Christians know this hunger yet at times may lose our way. He says we must never lose our address. That is, don’t deny the hunger or even offer a nod to satisfaction with this life. This homesickness for God is a divine gift and precious, a continual reminder that my dwelling here is a mere tent and at any time the Lord “may come to draw the pegs.”
If I feel like that, how about those who have not yet identified this deep desire and do not know what is pulling on their hearts? This is God’s reason for His “not yet” to me. I have an obligation to expose the mystery of this longing.
For now, I am a stranger and a pilgrim here, filled with a sense of not belonging yet knowing this is where God wants me to be. He gives me zeal to do His will, yet because of that deep longing to go home, part of that zeal is being able to see by faith that being here is temporary. No matter how much He blesses this life, this life is not all there is.