Missing my wife and child has helped me realize I should be longing for heaven even more than I long for them.
Leaving My Child
“Bye bye!” My voice carries that high pitch it only has when I talk to my daughter. I wave my hand and smile “bye bye.” My daughter looks at me, briefly acknowledging my existence before crawling across the room to play with her favorite daycare toy.
This is harder on me than it is on her, but I know that’s a good thing. My heart sinks just a little bit at leaving my daughter for the work day, though I have to laugh at the irony—I dropped her off early because I was getting impatient with her. It’s weird living with that tension.
I hate leaving my daughter on days that I have to work. Especially since there are nights when I work so late that I’m not home to kiss her goodnight. I miss her. In some ways, I long to be with her and spend more time with her. It’s a lot like being away from my wife for an extended period of time.
This tends to have one of two effects on me: either I cannot focus on work, being completely unfruitful at my job for the day, or I immerse myself so heavily into my work that I almost forget I have a family.
Neither of these are ideal, and I think the best thing I can teach myself to do is to allow the emptiness of missing my family to exist in tension with the expectation of reuniting with them. In other words, I should not be afraid of the temporary ache that comes with being separated from my family, because it is a good thing. Not only can it motivate me to be fruitful while I’m away, but allowing the ache to exist makes seeing them when I get home all that more joyous.
What about Heaven?
The challenge in this experience is that we should apply this to our desire for heaven. While I miss my family, I seldom seem to have that same ache for heaven. I used to, but I think the rigorous routine of everyday life has stolen that yearning from me. But how much more necessary is it to desire heaven than the company of our family? It is also significantly harder because it is a desire that can only be fulfilled through death.
But if we embrace this longing, and allow it grow, we can bring it to fruition—for a faith without passion bears little fruit; but when we pursue heaven, our work for God can blossom. It will make our heavenly homecoming all the more joyous.
Embracing the Longing
So how do we embrace this longing in our hearts for heaven? To be honest, I don’t have it all figured out. First, we have to recognize that it’s there and be okay with that. For me, that happens when I realize how fallen our world actually is. If I ignore the injustices and problems of the world because they are too hard to deal with, I tend to not really be thinking of my heavenly destination. For some reason, there’s a connection there in my mind.
Second, once I acknowledge that emptiness, I have to be motivated by it. I cannot just say, “Oh it’s all okay because I know things will be better in heaven.” I have to do something about the things that sadden me–whether it’s writing about them, trying to affect the politics around them, or ministering to those whom it affects.
From now on, I’m going to consciously use my longing for my family to remind me just how much I long for heaven. Are you willing to do the same? Maybe you already have that longing in your heart; how do you use it in your faith life?