Today’s Thought and Text of Encouragement:
“The things which are impossible with men (and women) are possible with God.”
Luke 18: 27
“Canst thou take the barren soil
And with all thy pains and toil
Make lilies blow?
Thou canst not, O helpless one.
Have faith in God – He can.
Canst thou paint the clouds at eve?
And all the sunset colors weave into the sky?
Thou canst not, O powerless one.
Have faith in God – He can.
Canst thou still thy troubled heart
And make all cares and doubts depart
From out thy soul?
Thou canst not, O faithless one.
Have faith in God – He can.”
Today’s Study Text:
“As they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire parted the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
II Kings 2: 11
“Homesick for Heaven”
“Earth is embittered to us, that heaven may be endeared.”
What events in my life have made me “homesick” for heaven?
“If one Indian ruler could prepare something as breathtakingly beautiful as the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his wife of just fourteen years, what must God be preparing as a home where He will live forever and ever with His people whom He loves?”
Anne Graham Lotz
Heaven: My Father’s House
“In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”
Ira David Sankey
Many times, my heart has been touched as I have read letters from God’s daughters and sons who have written to tell me “The words of the devotional today were written just for me. How did you know what I was going through?”
Other times, someone will email me and say, “I was just reading the text you used today as our study text and wondering what it meant. God answered my prayer when the devotional arrived.”
But then, as happened today, the devotional study, including the exact place we are in the life of Elijah, is a “providential happening,” as I like to call it, that comforts and encourages me – personally. Our study today takes us into the realm of our future home. Actually, our permanent home. For as Vance Havner so correctly observes, “If you are a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven; you are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world.”
This is what we find throughout the life of Elijah. It is a prime characteristic which was evident in Elijah’s life from beginning to end – he traveled “light” on this earth. By “light” I mean that Elijah’s life wasn’t rooted in the things of this earth. Instead, he kept his eyes focused on his heavenly home and his ears tuned to his Father’s voice. What a tremendous message he left behind for you and me. Because when the time came for Elijah to leave this earth, there wasn’t anything to hold him back.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m certain Elijah cared deeply for Elisha and all the students at the schools he established. His final trip to visit these students was to leave a message of love, of this I am certain. And I have no doubt his heart held a special place in it for the widow of Zarephath and her precious son, whom Elijah raised from the dead. But what came to my mind as I read today’s study text was how prepared Elijah was to leave his “temporary” abode “below” for his permanent home “above.” It is this specific fact which got me to pondering the way I sometimes keeps my thoughts, my plans and even my long-term goals too “earthly centered.”
The great British theologian C. S. Lewis penned these thought-provoking words: “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this (world).” Now before I exhort anybody else to get more heavenly-minded, I thought it wise to do a little soul searching myself, especially when it comes to things of a heavenly nature. It isn’t difficult right now for me to wish, longingly, for a better land where illness, tears, and death do not reside. Having lost our dear Peter to the evil we call cancer just a few days ago, has had a way of turning my thoughts to the promise of a better land. Peter is now buried just a few yards from where my father is buried. I cannot enter this cemetery without a great sense of sadness coming over me and it is not because I don’t hold hope in my heart. It is because I still miss my dad. I miss his cheerful laugh. His whistling happy tunes. And I miss his voice asking, “How are you doing, Dorothy-Girl?” It’s not because I don’t have faith in God or trust His word that I still ache for my dad. It is because I’m human. Living on planet earth where very bad things happen to some of the dearest and kindest people we know. It is because tears still flow down our cheeks when someone we love dies. And yes, it is because deep down inside our hearts we long for some better place We’re homesick and we don’t even recognize this fact.
I’ll never forget when I went off to college. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. A new experience. A time to be on my own. I was thrilled. That is until I had my first meal in the college cafeteria. Oh boy! What a wake up call. And then, there were the lonely Friday evenings when in my parent’s home, we would have “Family Council” as we shared what we all had done during the week. I was on my own now. Big girl. I could do what I wanted with my time. But somehow, I wished I was back home whenever Friday night rolled around. That was when I began to understand what the word “homesick” really meant.
It’s a feeling that has overwhelmed my heart during the past few weeks as our family has lost someone we dearly love. You may understand exactly what I’m talking about for I know many of you are going through your own personal tragedies which have up-ended your lives; divided your family; or left you feeling there’s no place here on earth where you are secure. There’s no place you can really call home.
This is why I call it providential that our study today takes us across the Jordan River and along a dirt pathway where heaven and earth came so very close as Elijah was lifted out of his temporary residence to his permanent dwelling in heaven. It is enough to make you want to shout, “Hallelujah!” for as C. S. Lewis so aptly states, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
It is for this reason I believe many years ago, God sent a heavenly chariot to come for one of His own. I don’t think this was just some spectacular gesture to reward Elijah, but instead, it was our Father’s loving reminder to his children left down here on earth through the ages, especially on days when the pain of life breaks our hearts, that He has for us a home – a place of permanence. A place where our tears will be wiped away. A place where we’ll never be homesick again.
At the end of his biography on the life of Elijah, Charles Swindoll shares this thought: “We are such this-world-only dwellers, so rooted and earthbound in our current day and age.” Then he continues by telling about an old hymn written by Anne Ross Cousin entitled “In Immanuel’s Land.” Pastor Swindoll observes, “a hymn like this helps to sweep away the debris and trash of the temporal and reveals the timeless relevance and reality of the eternal.” I want to share the first verse of this song with you today:
“The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn awakes;
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.”
In the words of John Wesley, written in the 18th century, “I want to know one thing – the way to heaven; how to land safely on that happy shore.”
“Again I charge you, MEET ME IN HEAVEN.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
All of Grace
“For they were waiting expectantly and confidently, looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God.”
Hebrews 11: 10
Homesick for Heaven
“So dear to my heart is the promise of God
A home with the pure and blest;
Where earth weary pilgrims, strangers here below,
Will find their eternal rest.
But chiefest of all is the thought that enthralls,
That I shall behold my King;
Rejoice in His presence, revel in His grace,
And ever His praises sing.
I’m homesick for heaven, seems I cannot wait,
Yearning to enter Zion’s pearly gate;
There never a heartache, never a care,
I long for my home over there.”
Henry de Fluiter
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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