Vacation breaks are always good for me on some level. God wired me to work, to accomplish and to complete tasks, and I enjoy living out the purposes He has designed for me. Yet, running hard for months on end without stopping to refresh and recalibrate myself is unwise. That is why, when we packed up the van ten days ago, said goodbye to the dogs, and headed for the Florida coast to board a big ship, I was a truly happy camper. Through some generous friends, God graciously provided a cruise to the Bahamas for my family, and for five days we did nothing but enjoy each other’s company as the ship’s staff took care of all our needs. While we rested our minds and bodies, my soul and spirit experienced some growing clarity within. Today is my first day back at the office, and amid the large volume of work awaiting me, the clutter on my desk, and bloated calendar of backlogged meetings, I have located a verse that I want to share with you.
“And He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in and give us the land that He swore to give to our fathers. – Deuteronomy 6:23
The Father did not send Jesus to you in order to save you and bring you to Heaven when you die. While that is part of what salvation through Christ’s sacrifice provides for you, it is not the core purpose. The Father did not save you merely to keep you out of hell. The Father did not justify you so you could walk on golden streets and go in and out of pearly gates. Heaven was never the object of the Father’s commitment to redemption. Heaven is merely a place (and a temporary one at that!). While we rejoice that God has brought us out of guilt, condemnation, sin, enslavement and doom, we cannot view this as the whole of our salvation.
You see, the Father brought us out in order to bring us in. That’s what Moses, in the verse above, told the Jews who had been freed from Egypt, and who were about to enter the Promised Land. He wanted them all to know that the plan of God would not be completed for them unless and until they entered in to what He had destined for them. Getting out was the easy part – God did all the heavy lifting! Getting in was a different story. They would have to tenaciously trust God. They would have to move in determination. They would have to fight various enemies for every acre in the Promised Land. More than anything, they would have to want to move into what God had destined for them. If they did not want it, they would never walk in it.
Yet they had been wandering in the wilderness for forty years. They had gotten out…but they had not entered in. This was not the plan of God. He had delivered them from their slavery in Egypt in order to make them conquerors in Canaan. Moses had to remind them of their destiny.
This also is the reality for too many in the Kingdom. They mistakenly believed that salvation was primarily about getting them out of hell and into heaven. For these people, the work of Jesus Christ is more about transportation than transformation. So much emphasis was placed on escaping hell and receiving heaven that these precious souls missed the big picture that the Father saved them in order to be with them. Daily. Starting the very moment He forgave them. Continuing until faith becomes sight. Closeness. Oneness. Power. Emotion. Hope. Confidence. LOVE. Joy. Humility. Communication. Trust. Pleasure. This list of golden nuggets is what God offers all His children in this present earthly life. These are the effects of salvation when the saved person realizes that it is not primarily about going to heaven when we die, but rather that the King of heaven comes to us while we live. Forgive the oversimplification, but salvation is about you and the Father being together and growing in closer oneness with each passing season. Anything short of this understanding will leave the Christian in some level of wilderness wandering. That believer knows that she has been brought out by God, but she has not followed Him in to the land of promised blessing. The believer who has made his salvation primarily about going to heaven when he dies is banished to a place of dryness while he lives because he thought he was done when he got out of his Egypt. Who would want to live in that place between Egypt and the Promised Land? Moses could not rest until Israel crossed over the Jordan into the place of their appointed destiny.
And Jesus will not rest until we cross over into the place of our promised blessing down here.
Heaven will wait for you and will be there to receive you when you die. But what about before then? What about today? Surely, wisdom teaches us that God loves us too greatly to allow us to wander around without His precious nearness. He is coming after you. He is smiling. He is laughing. He is pursuing you with arms of omnipotent love stretched out immeasurably in your direction. He will not wait for you to get to Heaven before He encounters you – He would cringe at that idea. You might as well face it, the Father wants to dance, feast and sing with you in this life. You are not in some waiting room between your past ignorance and your future glory. He has so much to say. He is not mad at you or ignoring you. Maybe, just maybe…He wants to see if you want Him as much as He wants you. When you say Yes! to His offer to escort you in, you will know more deeply of His goodness.
And you will wonder why you ever allowed yourself to wait for Heaven to enjoy Him.