I’ve shared with all of you before that one of the best gifts Kurt and I have been given during our ministry years is our trip to Israel. Ten days visiting the Holy Land was absolutely amazing. New archeological digs daily revealing and substantiating the Biblical record, a mediterranean diet that I could easily adopt year-round, gazing upon beauty beyond belief in the variety of mountains, deserts, ocean, seas, rivers and plains, ruins dating back to the beginning of time, sites familiar due to their prominence in God’s Word, and all of this in the land where Jesus lived, lead, loved and laid down His life for me!
Walking through history, I worshiped and I wept, but from the very moment I stepped out of the airport, I felt at home. I did. It was as though I belonged. As my Granny Shunk would say, “These are my people.” I am a descendant of Abraham. By faith in the Son of God I have been grafted in. My inheritance is all tied up with these people, this place and the Person of Jesus Christ. Even though I was a first-time visitor, it felt like a return trip. After all, the worn pages of my Bible had taken me here time and again. In coming to Israel, I knew I’d found my way home.
We traveled that small strip of land from top to bottom. We climbed and tunneled, got baptized all over again in the Jordan River and cast nets from a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. We saw the place called Golgotha, stepped into and out of the garden tomb and stood amazed in the upper room where the Spirit of the Living God descended upon those first disciples.
Does this sound like an adventure? You better believe it! Exciting? The most! Spiritually impacting? Beyond! Makes since that I would be sad to go but taxiing down the runway heading back to the US, to the Ville, to my family and to all things normal and familiar, what surprised me was that in my heart of hearts it didn’t feel like I was returning home at all. Instead I had this unexpected sensation of leaving home, leaving the place where so quickly I felt rooted, grounded, connected. In the Land of Promise I traced my new-man ancestry and tasted my majestic inheritance in Christ!
Over the past two years five dear friends have left this earth far earlier than expected. The last being Jeff Stumph on December 31st. All of this has me thinking quite a bit about Heaven and what it will be like. I’ve read parts of Randy Alcorn’s Heaven before but now I’m digging in for keeps.
You know what I hear the Spirit saying loud and clear? Just like our trip to Israel, from our very first footfall in Heaven we’ll feel at home. It’s where we belong. All of the folks there are “our people.” We can follow that ancestry way on back. Abba awaits. And, it’s not where Jesus walked past tense. It’s where He lives, present tense. In Heaven we are immediately rooted, grounded, connected. The ultimate Land of Promise, without a doubt it’s our home.
“But until then,” the old hymn says, “My heart will go on singing, until then, with joy I’ll carry on, until the day, my eyes behold that city, until the day God calls me home.”
These five men are home. We remain and we cry, “Maranatha!” Come quickly, Lord Jesus. We long for You; we long for home.