A Place Prepared
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By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.—Hebrews 11:8–10, 13–161
Since 1906, every other year, there’s been a race from Los Angeles to Hawaii. It’s called the Transpac Race.
There’s a tradition in the Transpac Race, no matter when you finish the race, even if it’s two in the morning. When you pull into the Ala Moana Marina in Oahu, there’s a guy who announces the name of the boat and every crew member who made the trip. There’s a huge loudspeaker, and his booming voice bursts through the trade winds and welcomes each person home.
I’ll spare you most of the details of the trip. [But] it was a few hours before dawn. It had been sixteen days since we set out from Los Angeles in our little boat knowing very little about navigation. Suddenly the silence was broken by a booming voice announcing the names of our ragtag crew like he was introducing the heads of state. One by one he announced all of our names with obvious pride in his voice, and it became a really emotional moment for each of us onboard.
When he came to my name, he didn’t talk about how few navigation skills I had or the zigzag course I’d led us on to get there. He didn’t tell everyone I didn’t even know which way north was or about all my other mess-ups. Instead, he just welcomed me in from the adventure like a proud father would. When he was done, there was a pause and then in a sincere voice his last words to the entire crew were these: “Friends, it’s been a long trip. Welcome home.”
I’ve always thought that heaven might be kind of a similar experience. … After we each cross the finish line in our lives, I imagine it like floating into the Hawaiian marina when our names were announced, one by one. And at the end, perhaps simple words spoken by a loving proud God will be, “Friends, it’s been a long trip. Welcome home.”—Bob Goff2
Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We're tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God's eternal day.
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
—Esther Kerr Rusthoi
The more of heaven we cherish, the less of earth we covet.—David Brandt Berg3
Thinking about heaven can inspire and encourage us to be more heavenly minded and realize that heaven is a real place where we’re really going to live.—David Brandt Berg4
Think of it —
Stepping on shore,
and finding it heaven!
Of taking hold of a hand,
and finding it God’s hand.
Of breathing a new air,
and finding it celestial air.
Of feeling invigorated,
and finding it immortality.
Of passing from storm to tempest
to an unbroken calm.
Of waking up and finding it home.
I think perhaps I mentioned one time that I did not have my citizenship in this country, because I had married a Swede who had been born in Sweden, and who didn’t have his citizenship. If they only knew, he was such a wonderful man of God. It was during the days of the war, and if you married one who was an alien, you became an alien! Well, my people had been born in this country, my great-grandparents and all.
Yet that made an alien of me, and every month I had to send in where I was and account for myself because I was “an alien!” It was such a ridiculous situation, and I haven’t time to go into all the facets of it, but I can tell you it was most embarrassing. It took me some time to get that citizenship.
Then it was that this passage became such a comfort to my heart, that my citizenship was in heaven. “For our citizenship is in heaven,” Philippians 3:20. And I want to comment on this for just a wee bit.
Some time ago I found myself one night paying a real price and sacrifice to sit up and hear through a late program. It was regarding one of our national crises; I think at that time that it was in Africa.
I wanted to be well informed, and more and more I found myself trying to keep up with as many phases of that situation in Africa, and I didn’t realize until this particular night that it was pulling on me spiritually.
I was getting so entangled with the affairs of this world, though I wasn’t doing anything worldly, except just trying to keep up with the news, as I see it, and be well informed so that I could converse intelligently with other people.
But I found myself trying to keep up with so many phases of the mess this old world is in, and I couldn’t do it without worrying and feeling almost in bitterness sometimes, and some frustration because of the world condition; it was taking the keen edge off of my spiritual life. It was on this particular night, of this late program, that I just had it out with my soul.
I’m not saying anything against being well informed, but information that is needful and can be used for God’s glory—that’s different. I want to be a good citizen, but first of all, let’s remember this passage, that our citizenship is in heaven.—Virginia Brandt Berg5
You know the feeling you have when you’re at a wedding, listening to the music, waiting for the ceremony to start? Remember the anticipation, the intense emotion, the richness of meaning in the event? Then the groom and his men enter up front. And from the back, the procession starts down the aisle, from flower girls to bridesmaids. Suddenly the music swells, everyone stands and turns, the doors burst open, and in sweeps the lovely bride on her father’s arm. Everyone is in awe of the beauty and power of the moment. And you know that you’re all about to witness a new beginning that was always meant to be.
Keep that picture of heaven in your mind too. There’s a wedding in the future, and it is ours. We wait in great anticipation for God and His people to finally be united. We wait and ache for the pleasure of what is about to happen.
And it will.
One day, the gates of heaven will burst open, and people of the kingdom will be together forever with our King at last.—Rick McKinley6
Published on Anchor December 2013. Read by Jerry Paladino.
Music by Michael Dooley.
2 Love Does (Thomas Nelson, 2012).
3 Glimpses of Heaven (Aurora Production, 2004).
4 Glimpses of Heaven (Aurora Production, 2004).
6 This Beautiful Mess (Multnomah Books, 2006).