In the 7th grade, my mom and step-dad moved to a house in Sylvania. It was a nice house – a ranch big enough for the seven children that would be living there every other weekend – with a big backyard. The best part about the house, though, wasn’t the space, or the large backyard, but the in-ground pool. I would’ve never thought that my family would have a pool. It was the coolest thing ever. The first summer we lived there, we probably spent every day in the pool, making up games, and seeing how long we could hold our breath under water. All of our friends would come over to swim in our pool for regular days and for the fun summer parties. However, it wasn’t long – maybe a few years – before the pool lost its luster with us kids. Swimming was something we could do whenever we wanted, and so, like most people, we got used to it, and eventually ignored it.
We humans have this problem with many things. Take, for instance, those who live near the beach. Surely, we who vacation there are taken aback by the ocean’s vast beauty and calming presence. If you’d ask a local, however, they probably wouldn’t have the same feeling. Of course, they probably love the beach and the ocean, but they have most likely lost the feeling of awe we feel when we visit. It’s not just the ocean or swimming pools, it’s new technology, the mountains, big cities, and even new relationships. We tend to get used to things. The things – or people – which once inspired us and made us feel special, become a part of our routine, and thus, sometimes, take a back seat to other new, exciting things.
When we read the Scriptures, it’s clear that this hole in our soul, the cavity which finds itself unable to be filled, can only be satisfied by the presence of God. We might, because of popular culture, believe heaven to be a boring, sedate place in which we rest on clouds and play our harps. Perhaps, because of a cursory read of some passages in scripture, we might even think we’re simply going to be singing the same song to God for eternity. Either way, if we’re honest, while these experiences might be cool for a couple hours, we’d eventually grow bored.
This is not the picture of heaven the Bible describes!
What if, instead of becoming disinterested in what was once engaging, you instead continually discover hints of something even greater? What if every time a piece of technology, a new color in your living room, or a new relationship loses its excitement, God is inviting you to think about why this is? Maybe it’s because nothing on this earth was meant to continually fill, refresh, and enrich your soul. Maybe we aren’t as excited about heaven as we are about a vacation because we’ve missed the point of heaven. Heaven, ultimately, is an exponentially greater place than Hawaii and an exponentially more intense feeling of joy than the day of your wedding. The highlight of heaven – the whole goal, the point, the purpose, the pinnacle – is God. What better news could we want to receive? Our souls, created and purposed by God and for God, will finally return to the creator and sustainer of them.
In Psalm 84, the Psalmist describes his longing for heaven. It seems he understood that he was made for heaven. As you read through this, try to center your thoughts on heaven and picture what the author is describing.
1How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.
5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
8 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
Listen, O God of Jacob.
9 O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield!
Show favor to the one you have anointed.
10 A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.
Notice verse 10: “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!”
A single day in heaven is better than a thousand wedding days. A single day in heaven is better than a thousand first-days of vacation. A single day in heaven is better than a thousand first-time visits to the Grand Canyon. Simply put, our minds cannot even fathom how amazing heaven is. In heaven, in the full presence of God, all of the darkness in our lives will be extinguished. All anxiety, fears, and worries will disappear, and all of the emptiness we may have felt here on earth will be fully filled with the joy of the full presence of God.
What verse in the above passage resonated the most with you, and why?
What can you do today to set your mind on the things of heaven the way the Psalmist did in this passage?
Today, think about the things which you were once excited about, and how it felt when you anticipated those things. Then, turn that excitement to God and pray a portion of this Psalm.
Father, help me to long and faint with longing to enter heaven with you. Help my whole being – body and soul – to yearn for your presence. Help me to shout joyfully to you in anticipation for the time when I return to you. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
21 Days of Prayer -Day 2
This Week’s Prayer Focus:
Personally, pray for God to help you to know him more. Ask him to reveal the things in your life that keep you from knowing him more and to identify the things that you need to add to your life. Ask, what step you need to take this year to know God more. Collectively, pray that CedarCreek will be a place where thousands of people who don’t know God, come to know him this year.
Today’s Collective Prayer Focus:
Our Pastors, church staff, group leaders, serve teams and elders
This post was written by Andy Rectenwald. Andy has a passion for bringing the Bible to life for people, for Christian Apologetics, and for the Cleveland Indians. He is married with two young children.
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