I love to travel. I love (almost) everything about it. The anticipation of its coming, sitting at the gate in the airport amongst fellow travelers. Arriving in a foreign land, soaking it all in. Seeing new views, eating new foods. The adventure of getting lost in an unfamiliar place. Singing the same hymns in a different language. The wonder and gratitude that fills my heart as I sit and ponder what God has allowed me to do and see.
Every day, I get alerts in my email with new travel deals, new places to explore, new cultures to experience. I browse flights for trips I may never take. I book flights (sometimes ones I can’t really afford) for the trips I am lucky enough to take. I plan out my adventures for the year and anticipate how they will unfold, what beauty I will behold. I hold onto those plans and hope for those moments.
Here’s the part I don’t love – arriving home. I come into my room, sit on my bed and return to the less beautiful (at least in my mind) and less exciting life that is my daily existence. I upload my photos, watch the comments roll in, try and hold on to the beauty of what was for just a little bit longer. Cling on to this exciting vision of a life that doesn’t describe my daily situation. My joy begins to fade and the emptiness settles in. Then comes guilt. Why can’t I hold on to that feeling I felt just days ago when my heart was alive with adventure? I’m one of the lucky ones, not everyone gets to enjoy these things, so why do I feel sad?
My Heart’s True Longing
And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
1 Corinthians 15:19
In this passage, Paul was speaking to persecuted Christians, but the idea certainly holds true. With even the greatest of adventures in this life, comes disappointment. Even if we get a taste of the beauty we long for, it is always fleeting. Even with all the sights and experiences and relationships this world has to offer, we are simply not meant to be satisfied by this world. The beauty we see in the here and now is meant to direct our longing somewhere else, a place that will not disappoint.
As Brent Curtis and John Eldredge express in The Sacred Romance, “One of the biggest mistakes we so often make when captured by an object of beauty, whether it is a place, a person or a work of art, is to assume the longing in our heart is for the thing before us… [but] these are shadows of the realities to come. The beauty that captures our heart and is so fleeting draws us toward the eternal reality.”
My true heart’s longing, though I often mistake it for another earthly adventure, is the heavenly adventure that awaits me. And there is nothing disappointing about that. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
As my heart fled to take hold of this heavenly hope last weekend, Satan was ready at the attack to get me focused on the hopes in this world that are disappointing me. Of course, he wants my gaze to stay firmly planted here. He knows how dangerous it is when I set my eyes on things above.
Reminders of Hope
Paul was constantly reminding the early churches of where there true hope lies. I think I need these same reminders on a daily basis:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Both the most beautiful and most disappointing moments I have here on earth are all meant to point me to the glorious hope described in this scripture. When I experience the beauty of a night enjoyed with new friends or a breathtaking view, it is only a shadow of the intimacy and beauty that awaits in heaven. When I feel the disappointment of unreciprocated relationships or thwarted plans, I am also reminded that my hope is in something greater.
In the meantime, I’ll keep planning and dreaming… where to next? 🙂