we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8
Do you look forward to a vacation where you can get away from it all? Take a week or two and go backpacking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area; basking on the pink coral sand of Crane Beach, Barbados; cruising the Caribbean on a luxury ship? Sure you do! What is your dream vacation? Touring Italy’s Almalfi coast or the Alaskan wilderness? Bicycling across America? Visiting a theme park like Disney World? Anything that is so dramatically different from your normal day-to-day experience amplifies the feeling of the exotic and other-worldly. So many places and events from which to choose. And with all the things available to the civilized (and not so civilized) man, Paul says the preference is to bask in the presence of the Lord. Face to face. Am I the only one who agrees with him?
Paul says “we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (verse 1) But this home is not like our earthly stick-built houses. It’s God-built. No cockroach or termite infestations, no trees falling on our houses destroying property and lives. The mansions the Father is preparing for us (John 14:2) are far more comfortable than what we can imagine today. “For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.” (verse 2) I certainly understand the many delights of the world that captivate our senses, and tend to keep us earth bound rather than upwardly oriented. But are they worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us? (Romans 8:8) Very few it seems would agree.
For some reason most people would prefer to remain in this aggravation filled world where you have to sweat to eke out a living, slaving for an unappreciative task master. Yes there are delights of technology, appealing to the eyes and ears, and other sensual appetites with which we can be immersed. But should our focus lock onto all these things, or should we rather know what it means to be “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” (Heb. 12:2) Not a casual glance but a focused concentration of a determined love. It is after all the love that makes the relationship special. And to experience that love of God toward us without the wall of sin and flesh dividing us, well, it is no wonder that Paul was able to boldly state that it is to be preferred to be in His glorious presence than to remain struggling in this earthly tent. “For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened,” (verse 4) but under His wing, in His mansion, there is no more groaning, no further burden. And we can finally do all the things with our lives without the limitations we are encumbered with presently. We will be so fulfilled with our new occupations as citizens of Heaven and children of God we won’t have time to be bored, to be just siting on a cloud all day plucking our harps. We’ll have boundless energy and drive, and enjoy unbridled imagination and have rewarding creativity to exercise, all in the presence and under the wing of our King of Glory. How could it be otherwise, since all these characteristics came from His imagination and creativity in the first place!
I can’t imagine the finest vacation on earth that could hold a candle to that!
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]