Staff Corner: Greg Spires,Teaching Pastor
While on a summer trip, a couple was visiting the town where they grew up. Neither of them had been to this small town since they left to go to university. A life of raising children and pursuing jobs in various cities around the country was now behind them as they enjoyed retirement. It occurred to them they hadn’t been back to that small town since their high school years, so they decided to go back and see what that town was like.
As you would expect, everything had changed. To the couple, the town was almost unrecognizable. They were able to find their schools, the homes they lived in, and other spots from their childhoods. However, they had trouble finding the little café where they had their first date.
Finally, they tracked down a local man and asked for directions.
“Do you know where Sally’s is? We want to have lunch there,” they asked.
“You don’t want to eat there. Let me give you directions over to Sammy’s Place. You will like that better. Go down there, hang a right on Walnut – go a couple of blocks down. You can’t miss it.”
“Thanks, but we really want to go to Sally’s. Do you mind telling us how to get there?”
It took several minutes of talking, but they finally were able to get directions to Sally’s – despite his protesting, “I can’t in good conscience send you to that dump…”
They followed his directions and found Sally’s, tucked away in an alley. It was a dump, as he said. But it was their dump, and they weren’t there for the food, but the memories.
The way we go depends on where we are going. The couple experienced frustration because the man gave them the right directions; however, his directions didn’t go where they wanted to go.
Where do you want God to take you? Most people would answer “heaven.” And that is a good answer. Heaven is a worthy destination, and it serves us well to look forward to getting there.
People have been seeking God to get to heaven since creation. And for most of that time, they have been frustrated with Him, just like that couple was frustrated with the directions they were given.
“God, I want to go to heaven,” people ask.
“Okay, but I have something better in mind, so listen…” but they interrupt Him.
“I know what I want: heaven. Tell me how to get there,” they say again.
A conversation similar to this occurred between Jesus and Thomas in John 14:3-7. It reads like this:
“‘I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.’
Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’
Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’”
Thomas’ question betrayed that what he wanted was directions to heaven. But Jesus’ answer revealed the real destination: the Father! Thomas wanted to know where Jesus was going. Jesus wanted Thomas to be less concerned about where He was going and more concerned about whom He was going to.
We want heaven, and Jesus tells us He is the way to God. The good news for those who seek heaven is that heaven is where God is. But the point Jesus is making is that heaven isn’t the goal. The goal is to be with God forever. Heaven just happens to be the place where that occurs.
The reason heaven is worth looking forward to is that heaven is where we get to be with God forever in the joy and glory of His presence.
When Jesus was born as a human baby on Christmas day, a new hope was given that people could know God because the redeemer had come. Jesus, God in the flesh, came to provide the way to have a relationship with God through His death and resurrection for our sin.
Heaven is great, but it is too small a thing. The reason heaven is great is that God is there. Jesus calls us to listen to Him to get the right directions to the best thing: the presence of God Himself.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, the third week of Advent, we will reflect on Jesus – our Wisdom.
Praying with you,