While I tend to not travel for work as much as I used to, I remember having two goals each time I would take a typical trip: First, as I was going to a particular destination (usually to meet with some colleagues and one or more customers), my goal was to arrive at the scheduled time, pour my energy into solving problems, training people, or otherwise providing support to those with whom I was meeting. During the evenings at the hotel, I would work to prepare for the next day, and generally didn’t look for any recreational activities. This was work, after all, and I wanted to make good use of my limited time. (I wasn’t necessarily a superhero or workaholic: in most cases, the trips lasted just a few days, so I could sustain that pace for a short time…especially when I was younger!)
Once the last meeting was finished, the last review was completed, and the last handshake was exchanged, I had a new mission: Get home fast! My focus was on getting to the airport, getting checked in and through security, and hoping that everything would be on time, so that I could return to my home and my family. As the last leg of the journey would get underway (usually a short hop on a commuter jet), I would be itching to touch down at my destination airport and get that much closer to home. Even when the plane landed, I would fidget (along with the other passengers) as we waited for it to get to the gate, for the doors to finally be opened, and for it to be my turn to deplane.
Walking down the concourse, if my family was meeting me, I would scan the crowd to see them. Once they were in sight, I could finally breathe a sigh of relief: I was home.
Since the first human beings made the choice to bring evil into our thoughts, we are no longer living in the situation that God intended for us. The Garden of Eden has been blocked off, and the earth has been cursed. It’s a lot of work just to get by (see Genesis 3:17-19).
For those who trust Jesus at His word, though, we know that we will get back “home” someday, to a place that is restored, perfect, and beautiful.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14:2-3 NIV
Not only will we see loved ones there (those who have accepted Jesus’ payment for their sins, and chosen to repent from their sins and follow Him), but – like the Garden of Eden – we will be back in the presence of God, who loves us more than anyone else.
So, what will it be like when Jesus comes back? For those who look forward to His return, will it be like going on a long trip and finally getting home?
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21 NIV
I think that finally getting to Heaven will be something like that, indeed. That’s a great event to look forward to, but what do we do while we wait?
For one thing, we have work to do while we remain here on earth. Jesus left His church to stay on earth (after He returned to Heaven), so that they would spread the good news (see Matthew 28:19-20). They continue to do this today, making disciples and teaching. There are still countless opportunities to show – and tell – the love of Jesus to others. If I had stopped working too early on a business trip, my colleagues would have had to pick up the slack, and I still wouldn’t be able to get home any faster. It doesn’t do any good to jump ahead to the “getting home” part of our journey, until our current purpose on earth is finished.
In addition, we can stay in contact. Yes, it is good to maintain relationships here on earth, but we can pray to (and listen to) God, even though we aren’t home with Him yet (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Although modern technology has improved travelers’ ability to talk (and even video chat) with loved ones that are far away, nothing beats the ability to talk with an all-knowing God. Prayer never has coverage issues, static, or voicemail. No expensive electronic device is required to talk with God. As a result of that – along with the blessings of doing so – we should make use of this opportunity on a regular basis.
Finally, I think that we can get excited about eventually getting home. (See 2 Corinthians 5:2-4.) We will be in the presence of God, in a new world that is no longer cursed because of sin. A place has been prepared for us, and our family will be there: our blood relatives from earth who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, and also everyone else who has made the same choice, throughout history and around the globe.
Yes, the journey of our mortal lives in these imperfect bodies may seem long, but once our responsibilities here in this foreign country (i.e., a fallen world) are completed, the homecoming will be like nothing we have ever experienced.