January 21, 2018

We often wonder where our Christian lives will lead us. Are we just enjoying life here on earth, only to go back to the dust we came from? Certainly not! God’s plan for us is not just to eat, drink, be merry and then die. There is so much more to life than this. In reality, we are heavenbound. It is for this reason that the apostle Paul said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). And because life does not end here on earth, we need to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ who is able to translate us from this life to the next life in heaven. Again, the apostle Paul said, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Cor. 5:1).

To emphasize that we are not earthbound but heavenbound, the apostle Peter said, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). We should therefore not think and act as if this world is our permanent home. We are merely passing by. The ultimate goal is heaven, the home of the redeemed. Therefore, in actuality, we are on a journey. This journey is exciting, challenging and yet rewarding.

When we embark on a journey to heaven, it is exciting in that we are expectant of good things happening along the way. It is even more exciting when we are given an idea of what is waiting for us at the end. The Bible uses the journey of an athlete striving towards the podium to illustrate our own journey to heaven. The apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24). This describes the aspiration of an athlete at the starting line. He runs to win and is full of excitement at the prospect of winning the prize. He is all the more rearing to go for the crown as the crowed cheers for him. Therefore, “let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). Yes, our own journey to heaven is exciting, as we grow in our knowledge of the Lord and have a good view and understanding of what awaits us in heaven.

But just as the journey to heaven is exciting, it is also challenging. There will be obstacles along the way. These obstacles are less about the things outside of us and more about what is happening on the inside. Even athletes are not as concerned about the other runners beside them. Instead, they are inward focused. The apostle Paul continued, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:25). All of the runners have their own lane. No runner will win the race by swerving to the right or to the left, or by trying to obstruct others in their lane. The runner has to run within their lane and give their best, beating their own personal record. The apostle Paul concluded, “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Cor. 9:26-27).  

Our journey to heaven is rewarding. While trials and challenges will try to dampen the excitement that we have at the beginning, our effort will pay off if we press on towards our goal. The apostle James said, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Therefore, let us not lose sight of the greater reward. The trials and obstacles that come our way in this journey should not derail us. Let us stick to the lane (path) that the Lord has set for us. Earlier, the apostle Paul said that all the runners run but only one gets the prize. So, who among us will get the prize? In our race to heaven, we must remember that we are not competing against each other. Rather, we should be cheering and encouraging one another. There are two that are actually running the race – the new spiritual man within us and the old sinful and carnal man. As born again believers, we need to beat sinfulness and carnality with us. The apostle Paul said, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you” (Col. 3:5).

In this journey, we need to walk by faith. Heaven is a wonderful place but we can only get there through our Lord Jesus Christ. In this journey to heaven, Jesus is our “passport”. Without Jesus, we cannot enter heave. For this, I thank God for Jesus and for his love. The words of the apostle Peter is so true, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Amen!