"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:13-16 (NIV)
My years spent as an MK (missionary kid) were lived in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Congo is breathtakingly beautiful, which only makes the plight of her poverty-stricken citizens all the more heartbreaking. Because of the poor state of the roads, a sixty-mile trip could take nine hours to get from home to our destination. We made these trips in the back of the seven-ton army truck, which offered no shade to my freckled skin. My dad tried not to travel during the hottest part of the day (between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.). Most often, we would begin our trips as the heat of the day started to wane and arrive at dusk or under a sky full of bright stars.
I spent many hours daydreaming during those long trips. With no buildings as an obstacle to my 360 degree panorama view, I was able to see miles and miles of savanna grassland all around me. The grass in the distance always seemed to call to me to get off the truck and come play in it. That grass looked so different from the tall blades of grass I looked at on either side of the truck as we passed it. It only took one time of me rolling in that grass to never want to do it again. Unlike the soft greenness of the lawns I had played on in the U.S., Congo's grass was sharp on its edges. The combination of the paper-like cuts I received from their razor-sharp blades mixed with perspiration was miserable and one I did not ever want to experience again. Worse than the stinging saltiness of my sweat in the scratches was the horrible itching reaction of my skin. I was sure that the grass in the distance would not be like that. I would fix my eyes on the most inviting patch in the distance and dream of getting down to play.
Without exception, the grass I had fixed my longing on turned out to be the same itchy, razor-sharp disappointment when the truck reached that point of the road. I would puzzle over how it could have looked so deceptive to me miles back down the way we had just come.
That same disappointment I experienced as a child longing for soft grass in which to play is what I experience constantly here on earth. Life is full of unmet expectations, isn't it? I have put my longing on something that I have been sure will ease this ache inside only to be let down. From a distance, my heart's desire looked so inviting. I can justify spending hours, days, weeks, even years, longing for what turns out to be itchy, razor-sharp grass, miserable to be in.
This earthly life is just that--earthy. It was never meant to satisfy the aching void in my soul. I have been made for a different home, a heavenly one. In that home, this insatiable longing will be satisfied. No more disappointment with others, no more premature good-byes or poverty, and no itchy grass that deceives, cuts, and makes me miserable. And what did I do to deserve such a place as heaven--only to agree with God that Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection gives me that right. Because of my sin, I don't deserve heaven, but my Jesus has promised that all of its joys will one day be mine.
Are my longings in the right place, focused on my heavenly home, or are they bound to bring me disappointment because I am looking to earth's fleeting joys to satisfy what they have no power to satisfy?
Jesus, this earth calls to me so loudly to be lured into the deception that it can be what only heaven can. Help me to live beyond what my eyes see and close my ears to the lie that this world is my home. Keep my vision on You, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.