The music swells, and the orchestra reduces to just the strings. A bittersweet harmony rises.
One of my favorite films closes with both unresolved tension and vibrant hope for new life. My heart is doing somersaults as the violin and cello blend, swirls of color pass along the screen, and the narration of the main character comes to an end.
Bitterness and beauty woven into the same fabric.
Sirens and songs fill my ears as I walk around the block, and I’m reminded of the collision once again – bitterness and beauty are neighbors in this world – this world that is stricken with sin and still held by its Maker.
Hurt and hope mingle on the streets, in our homes, in our hearts.
The sirens and bird songs fly high on the wind. Both have a unique way of stirring my hope for heaven, increasing my longing for home, where sirens will never be heard again and bird songs will be transformed into a brilliance beyond anything my ears have heard before.
This longing for home builds in the moments of goodness and beauty that invade my every day. The afternoon light streaming through the windows, the flurry of musical notes filling the house as my sister’s fingers fly along the piano. The lyrics that leave me in tears, the grace of undeserved love and encouragement. Hugs from loved ones, the smells of fresh cooking in the kitchen. Again and again, I find myself rejoicing in these beautiful gifts, simple as they are, while knowing deep down that even these good things are just a taste, a hint of what’s to come.
a hint of home.
The apostle John tells us in Revelation that upon seeing the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, he hears a loud voice from the throne say,
Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev. 21:3-4)
The brokenness of our present, sinful world will be done away with. This proclamation of what is in store for those who are in Christ is surreal and stunning. The purity and beauty, the perfection of our heavenly home, is truly beyond words and comprehension. The apostle Paul also anticipates the reality of our future home and urges his fellow believers to live heavenly minded when he says,
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. (Phil. 3:20)
For this present time, our feet are planted here. Our lives, even as sojourners, are meaningful and marked by purpose – ultimately, to know Jesus Christ and glorify Him in making Him known. But as sojourners of earth and citizens of heaven, we are left with a mysterious sense of longing and hope for h o m e.
Maybe this deep ache is a longing not for what we’ve lost but for what we’ve yet to gain.
We have yet to experience a world of purity, overflowing with the goodness of the Lord and untainted by sin. We have only ever known the bittersweet harmony of a broken and beautiful world. We have yet to arrive home.
Writer and theologian C.S. Lewis beautifully speaks of this mysterious and yet undeniable longing for heaven.
In speaking of this desire … I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you – the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. … The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers.
For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
This hope for heaven lies deep within us; it is a desire that can and will only ever be satisfied by Jesus Christ. He is the glorious One who created us for Himself. Truly, our hearts will be restless until they rest in Him. (St. Augustine) While we still live on this side of eternity, we have graciously been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have not been left to journey alone. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we are being made more and more like Christ. (II Corinthians 3:18) Truly, our longing for home increases as we know and reflect Jesus more.
Still, there is a fullness of our lives in Christ that we have yet to partake in. There is so much more of Jesus Christ we have yet to discover, Pastor Colin Smith encourages. Our lives in Christ are ever-expanding. This infinite and great God in whom we are found invites us to press in to Him, to know that our deepest longings, our hope for heaven, can only be met in Him.
Friends, we know He is coming back, and therein lies our hope. May both the beauty and bitterness of our present world guide our gaze towards our Savior and our heavenly home with Him.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
Christina’s CornerIf you didn’t catch my last post, I will be passing along one of my book reviews once a month for your enjoyment. As a volunteer with Moody Publishers, I read and write reviews for various books and hope a title will spark your interest. (There is certainly no obligation to purchase the book; I simply want to pass along ideas for your reading pleasure.)
This week’s title is All That’s Good by Hannah Anderson. Click to read the review!