We can tell a lot about ourselves by what we long for, by what we desire, by what we dream about, by what consumes our thoughts when we lie in the quiet darkness of night. I don’t think I’m wrong in suggesting that few of us spend much time dreaming about Heaven. Most of our longings extend little farther than what we can see, have, and experience here on earth. And yet the consistent message of the Bible is that there are treasures and blessings beyond this earth that are so beautiful, so wonderful, so desirable, that the best of earth’s joys will pale by comparison.
This longing is the subject of Stephen Morefield’s book Always Longing: Discovering the Joy of Heaven. He, like so many of us, has always known that Heaven is good, but has still preferred to focus his thoughts and desires on this world and this life. He has always known that Heaven is a wonderful place, but he still didn’t want to go there because he had other plans, other dreams, other things he wanted to accomplish. “Sports, college, ministry, marriage, kids—those sorts of things. I had too much to do to want to go to Heaven. I also had a healthy fear of death. Who wants to die? Not me. No thanks.”
But as time went on he came to understand some very good news. “I was completely wrong about Heaven, and you probably are too.” He was wrong in what he understood about Heaven and wrong about wanting to be here more than he wanted to be there. He realized that we live best when Heaven consumes our thoughts and fills our desires. We live best when we live with a longing to be absent from the body and home with the Lord.
He begins the book by asking simply, does Heaven matter? He follows Randy Alcorn in showing that we were made for both a person and a place, and “that person, experienced in the presence of that place, will meet every single need we could ever have. Complete satisfaction is possible. All of our longings tell us it must be. But only in this divine gift of a person and a place will we ever find it.” The second chapter faces the reality that we must all die and considers what happens after death. He balances the horror of death with the beauty of finally being in the presence of God.
We would be lying if we said that this world is only full of sorrows and woes, for that is not the case. We experience many blessings here and enjoy many pleasures. And it is good and honoring to God when we embrace them. Yet these pleasures are not meant to captivate us, but to point us to the fulfillment of our longings—to the presence of that person in that place. And this book does a commendable job of directing our longings in just that way.