This week we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death, and the gift of eternal life in Christ. Most of us have trouble wanting heaven, because we haven’t been trained to recognize the desire for heaven that is present in each one of us. I’m talking about our unfulfilled longings and desires. Do you remember the sweet smell of summer on the last day of school? The joy of graduation day, or waking up on Christmas morning? A walk through a towering redwood forest, or standing before a dramatic ocean sunset? The exhilaration of crossing the finish line in a hard fought race, the tears down your cheeks as you saw your bride walk down the aisle? The satisfaction of a job well done, or the memories of a faraway country?
These are the moments we say to ourselves, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” And yet the perfect happiness these sweet moments offered us were fleeting and temporary. They flew away…and as much as we wanted to go with them, we could not. C. S. Lewis reminds us in Mere Christianity (Book III, ch. 10) that we can respond to these experiences in one of 3 ways…
One is The Fool’s Way, which is to blame the things and people themselves that disappoint us (we look for another romantic relationship to fill our need for love, a more expensive car, or a bigger vacation…but each time these experiences fail to deliver our heart’s desire). David, of course, was well known for the affair that he had with Bathsheba. He had become bored…and was looking for a new thrill.
There is the so-called Sensible Way, which is to give up on our dreams altogether; to settle down and not expect too much; to stop chasing the rainbow’s end. Jim Carrey once said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” Like Jim Carey, Solomon (King David’s son) had money, he had power, he had fame… he built great monuments…he had many women “and the delights of the flesh”…but he finally called all of this “a chasing after wind” (Eccles. 2: 1-11).
Finally there is The Christian Way. It is to rejoice in every signpost of beauty and eternity in this life...but to know that they point us to something beyond this world. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy” says Lewis, “the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” I have eyes because there is something to see. I have ears because there is something to hear. I hunger for God…because God wants me to know him, and live with him forever.
The Christian says, “I love this world; but I’m not home yet.” Listen to King David: “O LORD…You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips…He asked you for life; you gave it to him – length of days forever and ever… for the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved” (Psalm 21: 1-7).
Christ is the answer to our heart’s desire and our longing for life. King David’s prayer was fulfilled by David’s greater Son who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me…even if he die, shall live.” I shared and sang the truth of those words with three dear friends this month who have recently died – Clarence Scott, Marion Anderson, and Marguerite Knutzen. In addition to these we also remember Mary Boyd, the mother of John Boyd. Each of them trusted deeply in Jesus, knowing that heaven is more than a vague hope…but our unshakeable inheritance in Christ, whom the grave could not hold. Today, they are in the Lord’s presence, “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8 NIV). Friends, I invite you to claim that truth for yourselves this Sunday as we shout with all the saints in every place and time, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”