BY SE RI LEE
This piece is part of syndicated series in collaboration with Yale Logos for Lent 2021. You can read the original piece at https://www.yalelogos.com/home/looking-forward-to-home.
Over the past twentyish years of my life, I’ve had fifteenish rooms. The longest I’ve called a room home is a little under three years. I used to complain about it a lot as a kid. “Why do we have to move around so much?” I’d whine every time I had to store up my belongings in boxes.
What surprised me was my mom’s unwaning cheerfulness during the moving process. Once, I asked her if she genuinely enjoyed the repeated packing and unpacking, to which she replied with words unintelligible to my third grade mind.
“It’s a huge blessing that we’ve been moving around so much. That way, we don’t get too attached to our home on earth. It makes it a lot easier to look forward to our home in heaven, with Jesus.”
Now, ten years later, a passage from Luke helps me see at last why it is a blessing to look forward to our home in heaven.
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”
Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”
But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.
I immediately got the impression that the man’s a strategic capitalist. There are many like him in real life who build their own version of bigger barns when there’s a surplus. I began to wonder if the whole point of this story is to condemn capitalism’s moral implications, just as I got to the part where God criticizes the man. “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.” This jolted me. As the thought of death crossed my mind, I yelled back to God, “I’m not ready to die!” Suddenly, I was the man in the story.
Like the man, I was too attached to this world. Most of what preoccupied me in the past year were worries about whether to take a gap year, what major to choose, what summer internships to consider, and what clothes to buy. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I agonized over how to furnish and decorate my life on earth. Although my Christian background informed me that I’m just a passerby on earth whose home lies in heaven, I kept focusing on what felt imminent and relevant, which death obviously seemed not.
It was hard to be rich toward God when most of my thoughts were directed to building my earthly profile. It seemed I had plenty of time to mend my broken relationship with God. It’s okay if I don’t pray today — I’ll have time to talk to God tomorrow. It’s okay if I lose patience with my family today — I’ll get more chances at practicing God’s love. But God reminds me through Luke that there may never be a tomorrow. He tells me that if I want to be rich toward Him in my life, I need to start right now.
Reflecting on my mom’s words helped me put this realization into action. Part of the reason I let my spiritual procrastination go out of hand previously was that I didn’t know how to get out of it. Every time I attempted to live according to the Word, it felt as though I was forcing a set of biblical principles onto my life, which ended up feeling suffocating. This time, it came easily to me, for I didn’t have to willfully change myself — the story about the rich man and my mom’s advice did all the transformative work for me. The parable portrayed life as so fleeting that it made me think about death and the life that’ll be given afterward frequently. I started to imagine and look forward to what heaven might look like — will it be just like life on earth with the same family, friends, and memories, except without any conflict and suffering? The possibilities were endless. This privilege of eternal paradise poignantly reminded me of Christ’s death and resurrection, which allowed me a home in such bliss in the first place. I felt constantly grateful for Christ’s sacrificial gift and wanted to give back to Him for His mercy and love.
Instead of having to force myself to be rich toward God, I was now eager, for worldly concerns no longer preoccupied me. My thoughts were full of Jesus, and I felt tranquil. This transformation was possible all because I started thinking about heaven. Simply looking forward to my eternal home rearranged my headspace. It got rid of my worries, which previously barricaded my path to God. It blessed me with God’s presence, filling me with the same kind of joy that I noticed resided in my mom years back.
In six months’ time, I’ll have to switch rooms again. I’ll probably experience the same longing for permanency that I’ve felt every time I had to move. But unlike before, this longing won’t make me sad. Instead, it will remind me of my eternal home in heaven, promised to me by God’s unbounding love.