Mark Alan Williams
Hungry For Heaven
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Recently I stood with my good friend Linda as her husband Gene made the journey to the other side. It was intense as doctors talked about the process of disconnecting the breathing machine, how his body might react, the gradual process of death and so on. It was even more difficult as we watched Gene go through the process.
During our camping trip to Yellowstone, we tried Indian dancing! That’s Carolyn’s dad with the mask, Ben, Carolyn, Danny and me on the drum! (The fire was keeping us warm.)
In the midst of that terrible situation I was privileged to share with Linda and her children 2 Corinthians 5:1-5. In that passage the Apostle Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit to write about being “hungry for heaven.”
I see 3 reasons there that born again Christians should be hungry for heaven and long to go to the other side (instead of loathing that transition).
Here are the 3 reasons to be hungry for heaven:
01. Heaven is Our Extraordinary Eternal Home v. 1
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)
The Apostle Paul knew a lot about tents since he was a tentmaker by trade.
Here he was not referring to a tent made of cloth. He was comparing our bodies to temporary earthly tents. He was saying that our spirits now live in a temporary lightweight tent we call a body. But that when it is gone, we have a permanent home, an eternal body that God is preparing for us.
I cannot wait for that eternal home because it will be incredible.
Carolyn and I are not the greatest campers. One summer our family drove up to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to go camping in our tent.
We left home in 80 to 90 degree weather and soon crossed the desert in 110 to 120 degree heat.
But we didn’t realize it could freeze in Yellowstone, even in August.
I brought only short pants and a lightweight jacket. We shivered through the first night and especially me with only a blanket since we were short a sleeping bag. I put on every bit of clothing I could scrounge up and still couldn’t keep warm.
By the fourth night our family had abandoned the tent, except for our oldest son Gabe and me. The others were snug and warm with Carolyn’s sister who had a heater in their tent and Carolyn was in her parents’ toasty warm RV.
That last night it actually snowed!
The next morning, we took down the tent in freezing rain, me sopping wet in my thin jacket and headed home.
Compared to being in heaven, living on earth is like tent camping in Yellowstone. It is no comparison to heaven!
Why is our heavenly home so much better?
Our heavenly home will never have any pain or sorrow
Our heavenly home will never wear out
Our heavenly home will be perfectly, extraordinarily beautiful forever
Our heavenly home will be permanent
C. S. Lewis said “As we grow older, we become like old cars—more and more repairs are necessary. We must look forward to the fine new machines (latest Resurrection model) which are waiting for us in the Divine garage!”
Every one who knows the Lord Jesus should be hungry for heaven and our extraordinary eternal home! It is part of the joy of being a believer.
02. Heaven Means Everlasting Ecstasy v. 2-4
“Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)
The Apostle writes that “Meanwhile we groan…”
We groan when we see a good friend on life support
We groan when we watch the news and see tragedy & terrorism
We groan when a loved one dies
We groan when we are sick
On earth, we “groan.” But we look forward to heaven where there will be no groaning.
Media mogul Ted Turner once said: “Heaven is perfect. Who wants to go to a place that’s perfect? Boring, boring.”
People like Ted Turner have sad misconceptions about heaven.
The Bible describes heaven in wonderful ways that should make us hungry for heaven:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NIV)
“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27 NIV)
“Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:16-17 NIV)
That is what Christians have to look forward to.
C. S. Lewis said that trying to understand the ecstasies of heaven is like a child trying to understand the joy of sex. Before puberty it sounds like “yuck.” Likewise, we have to trust our Heavenly Father that heaven will be incredible ecstasy! We’ll fully understand it when we get to the other side.
03. Heaven Means Being with our Forever Family v. 5
“Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 5:5)
If you have ever bought a home, you probably know what it is to put down a deposit or “earnest money” to begin the purchase. That is what the Holy Spirit is. He is a “deposit”—He guarantees our eternal home. And He’s a taste of the glory to come.
The word translated “deposit” can also be translated “engagement ring.”
In the New Testament in Contemporary English, Eugene Peterson has paraphrased this verse: “The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.”
It is so wonderful to have the Holy Spirit in us as “a little heaven in our hearts.” He is the one who give us:
A sense of God’s presence when we feel alone
Guidance when we do not know what to do
Peace that passes understanding in difficult situations
Love for all people, even the unlovely
Joy in difficult circumstances
Self-control to do what is right even when it is hard
As her husband Gene lay in a coma, Linda Ruecker told how she got call at 2 AM that he had another “heart incident.” But she still had wonderful peace about the whole thing. Amazing peace. After the medical personnel removed the ventilator, Linda thanked God for her remarkable peace and even joy in the Lord. It was wonderful to witness.
How could Linda have joy? Because she knew that she would see Gene on the other side.
Each of the nine fruit of the spirit, found in Galatians 5, is a little taste of heaven. (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control). Do you like the taste of the fruit? If so, you’ll just love the real thing in eternity with your forever family!
To learn more about Heaven and Eternity, see my articles and podcast:
Five Questions for Those Who Think Many Roads Lead to Heaven
How to Prepare for Eternity Now and Face Death with Confidence Later
Podcast: Why would God take away our free will in heaven for eternity?