June 26, 2014

This life is okay, but in the next one I will be at home . . .

“ . . . and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) 

In this last line of the 23rd Psalm, David is still speaking as a sheep and not as a shepherd. While those who believe in the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, could say this as a declaration of His promise to take us there, that is not David’s focus. Rather, David is saying this as the determination of his own heart. He declares, “I will remain in the presence of God forever. Nothing can make me leave.”

Another psalmist says a similar thing in 84:1-2: “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” He longed for the presence of God. He is homesick for eternity and joyful that God is alive and real to him.

Some days are like that for me. I might even say aloud, “I want to go home” meaning my eternal home. It isn’t that life here is so terrible that I yearn to escape it. Rather, this longing in my heart is about the delight of His presence. I want to be wherever He is. I know He is with me and experience the sense of it, but I want to see His face and experience His touch. I want to be there in eternity — with Him forever.

A young woman in ancient Israel married a Jewish man in her country of Moab. After his father, he, and his brother died, Naomi, the mother-in-law, decided to return to her homeland. The daughters-in-law loved her, but one stayed. However, Ruth clung to Naomi and declared, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:13–18)

Ruth’s longing to go with her mother-in-law illustrates the longing of Christians to be with Christ. He is with us in Spirit, yet has returned to heaven to “prepare a place” for us that we might be with Him. It is this place where David longs to dwell, and so do I.

Paul explained this desire as part of our new life in Christ. With it comes a new citizenship. I no longer belong in this world; even now I am a citizen of heaven.
The enemies of the cross and of Christ think differently. They are focused on this life and on personal gain. Paul says, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:17–21)

The power of God is appealing and a transformed body sounds good, but even better is the prospect of that first glimpse of Jesus, and then being with Him forever and ever. Surely my soul longs to be with Him in the place He has prepared for me — where I shall dwell with Him forever.

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