“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”
Being a teenager in the ’80s, I was blessed with the arrival of Christian punk bands—a blessing for me, but a burden for my parents. One of my favorite bands was One Bad Pig, who had songs like, “Smash the Guitar,” “Cut Your Hair,” and my all-time favorite, “Ice Cream Sundae.” They were described as “quite possibly the most popular hard-punk act to arise within the Christian music scene.” The one line I loved most from their song “Ice Cream Sundae” was:
The world is like an ice cream sundae.
It’s all gonna melt someday.
As followers of Christ, we know that what we see will not last. All the stuff of the world will melt one day, but we live as if it is eternal. What we can see is temporary, but what we can’t see is eternal. Paul reminds us of this truth:
“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
— 2 Corinthians 4:18
It may sound a little crazy to focus on the unseen. If we can’t see it, then why is Paul encouraging us in 1 Corinthians 4:18 to focus on it? The world is the seen, and heaven is the unseen. He knows that nothing here lasts. We spend so much time, energy and attention on the here and now. Yet compared to eternity, it’s like a couple of seconds. Paul is warning us about the brevity of life and the insignificance of things on earth.
Can you imagine staying in a hotel for a night and replacing the room’s contents with your own furniture and pictures? Setting it up like it was your home? Maybe you could even get a really nice big-screen television for better viewing. People would consider you nuts to go to that extreme for one night or even a week.
I’m sure the Lord looks at us in the same way. He might say to us, “Hey, why are you are so consumed with your few seconds on earth? You are spending an incredible amount of time and money on the very things that will not last. It’s all gonna melt someday.”
Life is a vapor.
If your focus is on the seen, you will hold onto things tightly and live a hard life. If your focus is on the unseen, you will hold onto things lightly and live free. The tighter we hold to the earth, the more we quench life. Life is really short; it’s a mist.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
— James 4:13–14
Holding this world loosely is a concept that hit home for me several days before my father passed away from his battle with leukemia, when I noticed a book on heaven next to his bed. One of his good friends had dropped it off to encourage him. I asked him if he’d read it, and he smiled and said, “Why do I need to read about it when I will be experiencing it shortly?” His perspective changed when he knew he was coming close to the end.
The things that were important in his life, like people and the things of God, became the most important things. His walk with the Lord became sweeter each day. He realized his life was a bit of smoke that was vanishing quickly. My dad was holding this world loosely, and he was free. There was peace, because death did not have a hold on his life, nor did this earth.
Each one of us must live with an eternal perspective. We are called to do good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. We are all called to build on the foundation of Christ. And all of our work will be tested to see if it’s temporary or eternal.
Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
— 1 Corinthians 3:12–15
Swallow a healthy dose of heaven daily. God desires for you to set your mind on things above so that you can live free now. Don’t get trapped by this world. Most of us are all weighed down by the temporary stuff. The funny thing is that we never see materialism in the mirror, but it’s easy to spot it everywhere around us. If we’re honest, we’re holding way too tightly to the things that don’t count and not investing in the things that will live on.
Hold light and live free.
People who hold this world lightly stick out. Their life is marked with peace. They find the time to care about the important things and don’t sweat the small stuff. Their filter is “heaven is my home, not this earth.” Focus on heaven and live free today.
Remember, it’s all gonna melt one day. Be resolved to focus on the unseen, not the seen. Ask the Lord to help remove the things that blur your vision. When we focus on the world, we hold tightly. But if we focus on heaven, we hold lightly.
Lord Jesus, I am confessing that it is hard not to focus on and pursue the things of this world. Empty me of the desires of the world and instead help me crave the things that are unseen—the eternal things. I ask for a godly perspective as I serve You. My life is only a vapor and I want every moment to count. I know that it is all going to melt someday, so help me to live that way. In Jesus’ name, amen.