For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13, verse 14.
Do you struggle with the here and now as I do? I remember from years ago a sermon presented by our pastor in west Colorado Springs. It was about heaven being our real home, how we are really just transient citizens on this fallen earth. You know the details: this world will end and Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, then usher in a new heaven and a new earth. “No matter what is happening here, don’t lose heart. Heaven is our real home” said this pastor. We shouldn’t get too wrapped around the axle about holding on to this place because we’re actually citizens of another, better place.
But what about now?
Here and now is all I know. Like so many people, I have déjà vu moments that seem like fleeting glimpses of something else. Sometimes I wonder if they aren’t “soul memories” of where I was before I was born. I know: crazy stuff. Or is it? A learned, educated, rational Lutheran pastor insisted (as millions of others do) that I, as a believer in Jesus, am actually a citizen of a multi-dimensional existence that is a reality outside of what we know as time and space. Trusting that I will spend eternity there with a Savior who I’ve never met in person is a bedrock of my faith. It keeps me going sometimes because, as they say in the church I now attend “eternity matters most.” To an unchurched mind, THAT is crazy stuff. Here and now is the known. So what about now?
You see, I get it. The pastor was correct. I get that Jesus has a place ready for me in heaven. Whatever heaven is, wherever heaven is, I’ll be going there when my time here on the Third Rock is done. I really, truly do trust that this earthly home – the only home I know – isn’t a permanent place, that my permanent residence is a place I haven’t yet seen, or that I remember so deeply from so long ago that I can’t recall the memories and can’t tell you what it looks, smells, and feels like to be there. I get it.
And that’s good. It really is. But while it’s a focus, that’s the forest. Today is built with trees. Here and now is where I’m a front line soldier in the army of the Living God. I know I have a place in His ranks someday in heaven, but for know I also know that I’m on the lines here on terra firma. That most of the world doesn’t believe in this Jesus. That much of the world believes in a host of terrestrial ghosts, or the manufactured demonics of Islam, or, worse, in nothing at all. Here I’m armed with Christ’s command to love as He loves, to tell others about Him, and to use what time, talents & treasures He has given me to do my best in my various callings. Here I’m fighting on His front line every day, defying the prince of this world, sometimes minute by minute, so that people won’t look at me and be led astray from Jesus. I’m glad that heaven is my home, and I’m glad that I’m not part of this un-permanent settlement in the land east of Eden.
But east of Eden is all I really know and it’s more than a Steinbeck novel Jesus calls me to remember that I’m a part of His eternity now, but that, for now, my role before eternity is here. To do His bidding here; to do His work at hand. And I struggle with that, struggle to keep my eyes on the ball, to follow His commands, to lay down my hypocritical judgments, to turn aside from my petty thinking and small ways. East of Eden is all I know, yet I also know Jesus walks with me here.
For further reading: Hebrews 12:27, Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 11:10.
Lord Jesus, I live in the land of Canaan, and I struggle here. I pray, encourage me, walk with me, and strengthen me to fight Your good fight today.