Dignitaries lined the street when the funeral procession passed. Thousands waited just to catch a glimpse of the coffin. In fact, the people of the United States and all parts of the world loved and revered the deceased man so much that his remains were disinterred in Tripoli and brought to the United States for a magnificent funeral.
His name was John Howard Payne. You probably haven’t heard of him. But this well-loved poet was best known for composing one simple verse:
“Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though oft I may roam;
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home.”
The prophet Jeremiah knew about feelings of home. He wrote to the elders exiled in Babylon to remind them. Although they found themselves in a strange land, they were still God’s people, and God still had plans for them. Until the appropriate time, however, God spoke through Jeremiah and reminded the elders to make a home where they were: “’Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters’” (Jeremiah 9:5–6). He even instructed them to pray for the cities and lands in which they found themselves, for if the cities prospered so would they.
This directive might have seemed odd to the people in exile. Shouldn’t they start a resistance movement? Some sort of an underground, covert military unit designed to get them out of that situation as soon as possible?
In a certain sense, we’re in the same situation as those exiles in Babylon. Those of us who know and follow God realize that this world is not our final destination. There is a life after this one—a life more real and closer at hand than most people could even begin to comprehend. Yet instead of asking us to rush through life to get to the end, the Bible encourages us to live here, in “exile,” to the fullest, for the glory of the God who put us here. As much as we might excitedly anticipate being in God’s presence someday, we have an opportunity—or more precisely, an obligation—to live fully in the here and now.
If you feel like an exile living in a place you really don’t want to be, take a look at a bigger perspective. God is present with you now, where you are. And he has a plan for you to fulfill until you reach your final heavenly home.
To Take Away
Why do you think God places us on earth to await our home in heaven?
When you envision the bigger perspective for your life, what plans do you think God has in store for you?
What impact does setting your heart and hope on heaven have on the way you live today? In what way does your life show that your hope is in heaven?