“THIS IS NOT HEAVEN!”
That is what a friend says in the face of trouble. Entitlement would make us think we deserve better. So would a victim mentality. It says, “I had it bad for long enough. Now I want to have it good, and you need to fix it for me.”
Read the description of heaven in Revelation 21 and 22. Not remotely like my day last week. The passage does not describe a busted pipe with water all over (I live in Minnesota!), an extended time in the hospital with my wife, and two seizures in one day for our precious daughter—and we’ve got it ten times better than most.
Get over it: “It the world you will have tribulation.” “Be not surprised…” said brother Peter, once he finally got it. When we step into heaven we will know it.
A missionary who had served his whole life on the field was returning. So was a celebrated diplomat who had spent a few years overseas. As the ship pulled into the harbor, the fireworks and the tickertape were announcing the prominent statesman as the crowd on the dock welcomed him back. No one appeared to shake the hand of the veteran missionary. Feeling lonely, he asked the Lord what was going on. He heard deep within, “You’re not home yet.”
One day our enduring will morph into enjoying. For the time being, “He that endures to the end shall be saved.” When “then” comes, you will know it. The Lord will say, “Well done…enter in the joy of your Master.” And non-stop bliss for an eternity will make the enduring fade into a distant memory, never to surface again.
I spent a year overseas after my second year of seminary. Two months in Kenya was followed by eight months in Israel, then a summer traveling through Eastern and Western Europe. When I arrived in London, I planned to visit a famous museum. But I was homesick, gone for fourteen months, and I said, “No more museums. Home today.” When I went through customs in Los Angeles, the customs officer looked at my passport, smiled, and said, “Welcome home.” I wasn’t prepared for that. I got teary-eyed. I was home!
Earth is not heaven. Don’t expect it to be—yet! And this kind of thinking is not remotely close to “whatever will be will be” theology. That outlook is called fate, in which we are pushed and pulled by chance. We are subject to a benevolent King who lives in the eternal present and knows the outcome of our day and our future. He cares for us more than we can imagine and is using the hardship to make us more like Jesus. Everything counts—including the days that look all too random.
Take this outlook, and your troubles are called “light and momentary” by Paul and “a little while” by Peter. They learned to put all their marbles in the age to come—the only way to live. Peter called us exiles and aliens. We aren’t there yet. This is not heaven.