Last weekend, I was playing questions with my friend and one cropped up about death. If you learned that you had two weeks to live, would you be afraid?
We both agreed that at first we would most likely be terrified but then I got really excited. I just want to hang out with God! I know that He is always with me, closer than I can ever fathom. But I want to be face-to-face and hand in hand with my Savior, surrounded by all the angels, saints and loved ones that have passed. This is what I imagine the elderly feel: joyful anticipation of eternal paradise.
This idea doesn’t only come to me when a road trip game prompts me to think about it. It is a familiar one, maybe too much so. I often question why I am in this place that seems far too earthly for me to handle. The transgressions become louder and my distaste for them does too. The world is inadequate to supply my longing as heaven stands so close but simultaneously, battlefields away.
C.S. Lewis put it magnificently. “If I find in myself desires which nothing in the world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world”. We are all made for another world. And as much as these desires intensify to the point of fear, I hope that we can all share in them together, with perseverant hope that His perfect love will grant us peace.
In trying to communicate these feelings of emptiness yet incredible fullness from the Lord, I’ve found myself saying, “I hate the world”. This statement may not be articulate, striking or polished but I choose its directness over disguising my thoughts with fluff. I don’t hate creation and certainly not the Creator. I despise the temporariness that has Satan’s name written all over it. The gossip, the negativity, the comparison, the doubt, the materialism, the competition, the ignorance, the selfishness, the judgement.
Whenever I say my four word sentence out loud, the reaction I get isn’t exactly a reaction. It’s silence. People don’t know what to tell me. I couldn’t tell you what is going on in their mind because their unreadable eyes stare back at me with a possibility of confusion or maybe surprise. However, I don’t need them to provide me with the answers because God has already done so.
So how do I faithfully live in a world that disgusts me over and over again? In a place so plagued by injustice and sin? A world being stripped of its beauty and innocence? How do I keep moving forward when it seems like the ground I am walking on is collapsing?
“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans 12: 9-12.
The Bible is overflowing with explicit ways to bring heaven to earth. Although it is difficult to practice in its totality, God graciously lays it out for us! Have I found this balance as my heart aches with earthly detachment and a yearning for heaven? Nope. Am I striving? 228% Yes.
I intend to be striving until the day I die. I imagine that my desire to abandon this world will be ongoing. But God has me here for a reason or else I would not have a pulse. He certainly has had the chance to take it away in ways that I am aware of and I’m sure thousands more. Only He gets to decide when I will be called home. Until then, I ask that He makes His home in me.
“Those who carry God in their hearts bear heaven with them wherever they go.” – St. Ignatius of Loyola.