Read first: Philippians 1:21,23
There’s an old preacher in my dad’s church who often says, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now.” And yes, the phrase existed before Kenny Chesney made it a song. :) Most often, he would say it light-heartedly, but he always meant it, too. It can be hard to wake up every morning and have an eternal mindset—especially in our postmodern culture. It’s difficult for us to wait 20 minutes for a decent meal at a nice restaurant, let alone make decisions with eternity in mind. St. Paul described it this way: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, emphasis mine).
The idea here is that looking ahead into eternity can be a bit like trying to peer through a dark, dirty window. We can sort of make out shadows and vague shapes, but we can’t see it clearly. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s waiting there for us. Or more specifically, who is waiting there for us. Paul lived and breathed the gospel. Once he met Jesus, all he ever wanted to do was to know Jesus and make Him known. And when he found himself in prison, he began to contemplate the end of his life. He had a strong desire even then to honor Christ, whether he lived or died (Philippians 1:20). And when he considered all of the amazing things he accomplished in life, and all of the incredible friends in ministry he had made over the years, he could say that if he lost everything and received only Christ in return, it would be gain. THAT is an eternal perspective.
Dr. John Piper puts it this way: “Is Christ worth more to you than all that life can give and death can take?” I have an amazing wife, four children (and one on the way!). I have an incredible job, a beautiful home, and a wonderful family. But if I gain the whole world and lose my soul, has it been worth it? Absolutely not! In death, I will “lose” all of these things. I will be placed into a casket alone, with none of my of my possessions, no house, no cars, no money– not even my wife or children. In dying, I must leave all of it behind. In a way, I lose it all. But when the radiant light of Jesus’ glory shines on my face in that first moment in the very presence of my Savior, and I look at Him– face to face–I will know in the most literal sense what Paul meant when he said that to live is Christ, but to die is gain.
This is the end of our sojourning. This is where we experience true and lasting peace and eternal joy; in the presence of the One who gave Himself for me. On that day, I will know Him as He knows me. I will know true and lasting joy like I have never known. I will be HOME. What a day that will be!