Are you heaven bound? If so, do you see your future destination as a trip to somewhere new or as a journey home?
Alberta is my Home
We drove yesterday morning down Calgary’s Stony Trail onto Canada’s premier highway toward the incomparable Rocky Mountains and I contemplated the meaning of home.
The flatness of southern Alberta contrasted with the skyward peaks stirred indescribable emotions in me, except to say that I did not feel like I was visiting but returning.
I grew up in the prairies east of Lethbridge and so much of that world defined my notion of home. The smell of wheat and sugar beets. Endless horizons. Simplicity and fertile land.
I left for the American military and southern scenery 14 years ago. Uncle Sam led me to the plush greenery of North Carolina and the scrub-brush of central Texas. Today, we call the sprawling urban landscapes of Dallas our home.
And yet, not 24 hours after landing back in Alberta, I knew I had not arrived in a foreign country but had returned to my real home.
Canadian country singer Paul Brandt penned the lyrics that say it best: “It doesn’t matter where I roam, this place will always be my home. I have been Alberta bound for all my life, and I’ll be Alberta bound until I die.”
Heaven is my Home
This leads me to further contemplate the paradox of heaven. We have never seen it, yet we’re told our citizenship lies there. By virtue of our connection to Christ, we will go to a home we’ve never seen.
So I ask myself, “Do I feel the same way about going to heaven as I do about coming back to Alberta?” Of course, the answer is “no,” since I have no memories of heaven to stir me as the prairies and the Rockies do. Still, if I dig much deeper inside, I sense a strange longing. C.S. Lewis wrote of this longing:
In speaking of this desire for our own far off country…I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence…We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience…Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
So, I remain perplexed that somehow we long for a heavenly home we’ve never seen. Perhaps that’s part of what it means to have the image of God burned into one’s heart; God Himself is the home we stumble hopelessly toward.