Today's Devotional Thought:
1 Peter 1:3-5, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."
Kay Warren writes these provocative words in Christianity Today: "Heading home to California … a friend and I passed through the Dallas–Fort Worth airport. On the way to the connecting gate, we heard loud patriotic music playing and saw a group, mostly women, wearing colorful hats, cheering, and waving American flags. The troops were coming home, and here was their welcoming committee.
Two women encouraged us to grab flags and join in. We were early for our next flight, so we took places in the makeshift greeting line. At first, a few soldiers just dribbled by. We whooped and waved our flags furiously. Then the pace picked up as dozens of men and women in uniform came barreling through. We kept repeating: "Welcome home! We're glad you're back! We appreciate you!" Some soldiers wiped away tears, while others displayed huge, self-conscious smiles. …
After 45 minutes, it was time to catch our flight. We hugged the organizers and thanked the vets who had come to honor this generation of soldiers. As we sank into our seats for the flight, we felt humbled by participating in this sweet moment of coming home. It was impossible not to draw the obvious spiritual parallels. These men and women had taken oaths of faithfulness and service. They had fought courageously, lived with deprivation, danger, and disease, and took unbelievable risks, all for the good of our nation.
But as great as America is, it is a temporary place. No nation lives forever. As believers in Christ, we are all soldiers in the Lord's army. We, too, take oaths of fidelity, sacrifice, and service. Our oaths of allegiance are to a kingdom that shall never end—a country where there is never a mistake in leadership, where justice flows down like a river, where poverty, disease, terror, hunger, and greed hold no power.
Scripture teaches us about the welcome and rewards we will receive when our battle on earth is over. Artists, writers, and theologians have all taken stabs at imagining what those moments of heavenly welcome will look like. … That afternoon … we were visualizing the very moment when we would step into eternity.
As my friend Elizabeth and I looked at each other, the same thought crossed our minds. Through misty eyes, she said, "If I get there first, I'll be on your welcoming committee. I'll be jumping up and down, screaming, 'You made it! I'm so proud of you!'"
I laughed and said, "Oh, you're not going to beat me. I'll be there before you. I'm older. I'll be at the head of the line to greet you!" In that moment, heaven was more real than the smell of the stale coffee in our foam cups.
What I'm really wondering about is this: Will we be surprised at who gets the biggest welcome? I'm not coveting more high-fives, but I am dimly aware of something so profound and holy that I can barely put it into words.
All of us fight unseen battles every day, each believer a secret soldier locked in battle with forces no one else can see. The bravest among us are not necessarily those who fight with guns or tanks. The bravest person you know might be your husband or wife or neighbor or coworker who goes on living one more day when every bone in his or her body says it's no use. …
How much could we lighten the load for another just by telling him how brave we think he is? Oh, to be so merciful with fellow soldiers fighting their personal, hidden wars.
Best of all, how much better when we bring undisclosed struggles into community, where victories can be celebrated together, great losses mourned together, and where whoops of encouragement can provide even the most weary soldier the courage it takes to keep on keeping on, one more day. [Kay Warren, "The Loudest Cheers in Heaven," www.christianitytoday.com (5-28-09)]
In your battles, fighting your daily spiritual wars, remember what you are fighting for. We have an inheritance that is eternally kept for us in heaven. All life is a river flowing inextricably to our eternal destination—that great unfathomable homecoming on the streets of gold. We will inhale the sweet pure air finding it heavenly and hear the cheers, whoops and hollers for our arrival. Then we shall finally whisper the sweetest word that any battle weary soldier has ever longed for in the darkest of nights. A word so precious, so beautiful, we have only dreamt of it with tears and a longing ache. Finally we will whisper it, "Home!"
Prayer: Our Father, how sweet will that day be to find our feet upon the celestial streets, to hear the cheers, to see our Savior(!), to bow before Your presence, and to know finally, unalterably, we are home. How we long for that day! While we remain give us strength for the battle at hand. Give us endurance. Help us to finish well. We love You! You are home for us and we will not be home until we see You face to face. In Jesus, amen.