I am navigationally challenged. I get lost all the time. If I’m planning to drive somewhere new, I will input the address into my GPS. And sometimes I’ve had my GPS take me to the wrong place because it is not doing its job well.
Here we have this sophisticated GPS technology working with satellites, yet God has put an amazing GPS system inside birds. Birds have a homing instinct, and one such bird is called the golden plover, native to Hawaii. During the summer, the plovers migrate to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, where they lay their eggs. Their little fledglings are born, and then the golden plovers just leave them there to figure things out. Amazingly, without ever having been to Hawaii before, these little fledglings manage to fly there on their own. God put a homing instinct inside of them.
I believe that God has put a homing instinct inside of us, too, an instinct to go to a place where we’ve never been to before. That place is called heaven. The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). We long for this from the day we are born.
We start our lives out on a search. Even as children we thought, If I just got that toy I saw advertised on TV, I know I would be happy. I remember as a kid getting a pretty good haul for Christmas one year. I was quite happy about it. But then I learned that my friend got something I wished I had received: a little plastic skin diver toy. This was the 1960s, so things were relatively primitive then. After putting two batteries inside the little diver, you dropped him into a pool, where he sunk to the bottom and bubbles poured out of him. I remember thinking that I no longer liked anything I had. I knew I could be happy if only I had that plastic skin diver.
Then we get a bit older and say, “Maybe if I could just find a girlfriend or boyfriend, then I will be happy.” So then we get that girlfriend or boyfriend.
So then we say, “If I could be engaged to this person, then I would be happy.” So we get engaged.
“If we got married, then we would be happy.” So we get married.
Then we say, “If we could just have children, we know we would be happy.” So we have children.
And we say, “If we could just find a way to get these children to move out, we know we would be happy.” On and on it goes.
Deep down inside, what we are looking for is God. We are longing for him. And we have a desire to go to heaven.
The Bible says, “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace” (1 Chronicles 29:15 NLT).
Before you know it, you are old. You always looked at those old people, and then one day you look in the mirror and realize you are one of those old people.
Before you know it, life is going to end. Then comes eternity. As a Christian, I have the hope of heaven. Yet sometimes it’s hard to wrap our minds around this place we have never been to before. The problem is that our minds have been filled with all the caricatures of heaven from Hollywood, cartoons and other sources. It’s hard for us to imagine what heaven is really like.
First we need to realize that heaven is an actual place. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2 NKJV). Heaven is a real place for real people to do real things.
The Bible describes heaven as a paradise. When Jesus died on the cross, there was a criminal next to him who came to his senses, hanging there on the cross. He said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).
Jesus told him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (verse 43). Heaven is a paradise.
On more than one occasion the Bible describes heaven as a city. Hebrews 11:10 speaks of “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”. The writer of Hebrews also said, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (13:14).
Think of a real city. Cities have buildings. Cities have culture. They have art. They have music. They have goods. They have services. They have events. So don’t think of heaven as just sitting around on a cloud. Think about the best cities you have ever visited, and then think of heaven. Whatever you have experienced that is great on Earth will be so much better when you get to heaven. Heaven is the original; Earth is the imitation.
Yet heaven is not the default destination of every person. You don’t get to go to heaven because you are an American. It is only the destination of those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
Heaven is the hope of the believer. That is how we can have hope in this crazy world we live in. Our hope is not in politicians. Our hope is not in government. Our hope is not in man-made solutions. Our hope is in God. He is the only one that keeps us going. And there is a better world coming.