I have always wondered how someone could long for heaven. I would hear people pray that God would come soon, that He would deliver this world from the pain and tragedy and darkness. I knew that as a Christian I should desire that as well. I could say it. But, in my heart I knew that I didn't feel it. I loved my life here. I enjoyed it so much. Was there something wrong with me for that? I claimed this world as my home. Heaven was in another world, a different life away from now. There would never be a good time for me to desire heaven because everything was so exciting. There was always something to look forward to. I wanted to grow up, and then get married, have children, and then grandchilren. I didn't want to miss out on anything.
There was a day not too long before Ashley died that she asked me this question: "Mommy, I really want to go to heaven, but I love this life so much...is there anything wrong with that?" My response to her echoes in my mind now..."oh Ashley, God gave us heaven to have forever...it is our reward, it is what we are living for...But, He also gave us this life on earth, and He wants us to enjoy it now, in the meantime." I said that before heaven was "real" to me. I said that when life was enjoyable and lovely. Heaven was a distant dream.
The day Ashley died, the strings to this world were severed for me. I suddenly understood the longing for heaven. I suddenly felt the darkness and pain and desperation of this world.
I was certain that God was coming soon. I assured myself I would only have to bear this pain for a few years at the most. My world caved and so surely the rest of the world was going to end too!
Every day I wake up and wonder a prayer. "Lord Jesus, please come today." Nothing feels shiny anymore. I feel like a stranger in this world. This home is temporary. It is broken and lost. Each day, the sun comes up and then the sun goes down. At the end of each day, I am thankful to put yet another day behind me. How long must I bear this life? Even my children long for heaven. There are days when they talk of heaven the way other children talk about Disney World. My children are not afraid of death. They look forward to seeing Jesus. They long for the absence of pain. They long for the true perfection of Heaven! It is hard for me to watch my children desire heaven the way I do. This home is not ours!
I wonder if my children will ask me the question I ask myself? Will they ask me "Mommy, I like to live here on earth, but I want to go to heaven so badly! How do I make it through this life when Heaven is so much better?" As I write this today, I am trying to answer my own question. The answer that I know is true, is the same one that I gave to Ashley. Heaven is my reward. God still wants me to enjoy this life here until He calls me home. It felt a lot easier to enjoy this life when life was perfect and enjoyable. How can I contiue to enjoy life when it's not? When I feel like I am not home? I feel uncomfortable here. I am still trying to figure it out. God is asking me to enjoy His gifts here while I carry a heavy cross. Must I really bear the weight of death and homesickness, feeling lost in every day...and then enjoy what God has given me?
When I think of the perfection of heaven...I remember what it felt like to live my days with my husband and ALL our children. When we could enjoy the beauty of creation and laugh and love together. We would often ask each other "How could heaven be better than this?"
As I remember those days I have to wonder if maybe we weren't so far off...maybe God had given us a taste of heaven on earth...so that we would know what we are living for.