“Ellen, we have to leave – NOW! Somebody lives here! Hurry! We have to get out!”

The urgency of my Mama’s voice scared me. I was only five, and thought we were on a grand adventure. Not that afternoon!

Often, Mama and I would run the roads while Daddy worked, and my siblings were in school. One of our favorite things to do was walk through newly constructed homes in our neighborhood. That day, we were walking through an empty house, oohing and ahhing at the different rooms. When we got to the master bedroom, Mama opened the closet door – and there were clothes inside! Someone lived in this house! No longer enamored with our “dream home,” we skedaddled!

There is one thing I can’t run from – this longing deep inside me for home. It’s always been there: I’ve always been a homebody, always fascinated with homes. Home plans, walking through new houses, HGTV House Hunters. I love home.

Yet, I’m still homesick. Still a stranger on earth. Still living here as a sojourner, a tenant, a temporary resident. Still in exile from my real home in heaven.

But I know this is not the end. My story is still being written. God is writing a story of His faithfulness on my life. My time on earth is preparing me for eternity in heaven.

As Max Lucado so eloquently puts it:

Do you feel as if your best years have passed you by? Hogwash. You will do your best work in heaven. Do you regret wasting seasons of life on foolish pursuits? So do I. But we can stop our laments. We have an eternity to make up for lost time. Are you puzzled by the challenges of your days? Then see yourself as an uncut jewel and God as a lapidary. He is polishing you for your place in His kingdom. Your biggest moments lie ahead, on the other side of the grave. Limit your story to the days between your birth and death, and brace yourself for a sad ending. You were made for more than this life. (God’s Story, Your Story)

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What will it look like? What will my job be in heaven? I don’t know. One thing I know for certain: I will be there the instant I die.

Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. I love how The Message translation of the Bible states it:

It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming. (vv 7-8, MSG)

Yep, going to heaven will be my homecoming.

How do I know for certain? Because I’ve placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be my Savior. Why do I need a Savior? Because I am a sinner (Romans 3:23). No, I’ve never murdered someone. But if looks or thoughts could kill…

Sin separates me from God. You remember, as a kid, when you would do something wrong? I would always hide from my Daddy and Mama. I just knew that they knew I had done something wrong. That’s how my sin separates me from God.

Of course, there was always punishment for my offenses. Often, I was banished to my room, or banned from the TV and phone. There is punishment for sin also. Scripture tells us in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death…” This means a spiritual death, permanently separated from God.

But here’s the good news: God loves us so much, He wants to spend eternity with us. He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place, and pay the price for our sin:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

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That’s God’s grace gift to us. And like any gift, it must be received, accepted and opened.

I have accepted this gift from God. I realize and admit my sin. I believe with all my heart that God sent Jesus to die in my place (2 Corinthians 5:21) so that I could live! I’ve committed my life to Christ, turning from my sin to Jesus. I have faith that He has forgiven me.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

I know Jesus…but it isn’t about just knowing Him. Even Satan knew Jesus, and I’m pretty sure I won’t see him in heaven. (Matthew 4:1-11). I have a relationship with Jesus and I’ve surrendered my life to Him. My pastor said yesterday,

“The question is not whether Jesus is Lord. He is Lord and King. The question is whether or not we are willing to place ourselves under His Lordship.”

I am willing. Jesus is Lord of my life. Because of this, I will have an eternal home in heaven when I die. I’m certain.

What about you? Are you willing to make Jesus Lord of your life? Will your eternal home be in heaven? Are you certain?

Ephesians 2:19 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and are of God’s household.”

Photography by John Chauvin

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