The Longing for Heaven


On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink (John 7:37).


There is at the heart of every man and woman on planet Earth a longing for heaven. We know instinctively that we are created for more than this earth, for there is a nostalgia for heaven. The word "nostalgia" comes from two Greek words: nostos, meaning to return home, and algos, meaning pain. Originally the word meant homesickness because that is an incurable malady, the only thing that cures it, is home. While we live in this world, there will always be this inner longing for something, a void, a hole in our lives that nothing seems to satisfy except God Himself. We try filling the emptiness by drinking alcohol—but that doesn't satisfy it. Fame doesn't satisfy it. Pleasure will not satisfy it. Nor will money. The emptiest people on earth are those who try to fill the emptiness with the things above. What we long for in our souls simply cannot be filled by anything or even family. To deny or ignore our longings that God has put there in our creation deadens our inner being—the part that aches for Him. To refuse to admit to our spiritual longing is to put our soul in peril. Aldous Huxley said: "Sooner or later one asks even of Beethoven, even of Shakespeare… ‘Is this all?'" C.S. Lewis described this as “the inconsolable longing…news from a country we have never visited.”


Augustine spoke of having this inner feeling long before his conversion to Christ. C.S. Lewis struggled hard and fought against the idea that the source of his "inconsolable longing" was his thirst for God. Of his search for God Lewis said: "They might as well talk about the mouse's search for the cat." If it is true that God has built a longing for Himself into the very framework of our being, then why try to fill the void with all kinds of things that are not Him? Our text for today is Jesus crying out in the middle of a crowd of people attending the most notable day of the Feast of Tabernacles, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” What Jesus was saying was that out of the temple of His life would flow the refreshing, life-giving, healing power of the Spirit about which the water and the prophecy spoke. When Christ lives in us and has been given full ownership to rule and reign over us, this river or spring will flow from the very center of our being, just as Jesus told us. When Christ is enthroned in the temple of our hearts, His Spirit will flow out to those around us, bringing us new life. Why deny your spiritual thirst any longer? Come to Christ and let Him fill your emptiness.

Keith Thomas