Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Psalms 137:1-4 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?
It was one of the worst nights of my life. The leaves were beginning to change colors in the fall of 1967. Our family was living in a small summer cabin on a lake outside of Oscoda, Michigan. It was cold at night. Several weeks earlier we had been evicted from the home we were living in. Dad was without a job. Mom was trying to bring in some money through substitute school teaching. As a freshman in high school I was experiencing deep sorrow and loss for the first time. Before school had started that fall I knew we would be moving, so when the time came to sign up for football and join the team with all my friends, I chose not to. I didn’t want to put my teammates through the same loss I was already experiencing. We ended up moving before the first game, so I made the right decision. I ended up never getting to play football.
I remember the night that Dad came to the family and said he had a new job, and that we were moving to Minnesota. I went to bed that night and cried myself to sleep. I have never felt so alone in my life. I was homesick before we had even left. Everything in my life changed. All I wanted for the longest time was to be back where I loved living and where I was loved by those living there.
The Israelites experienced such homesickness when they were led away into captivity in Babylon. They would sit and weep for their homeland. They refused to play their musical instruments and sing any songs of joy. But notice, they did not destroy their instruments or forget their songs. They simply hung them up until such time as God fulfilled His promise of restoring them to their land. God has promised to take us home again.
We do not sing the songs of this world. We are not overjoyed with the prospect of life forever in this land. We are not filled with hope that this world is our final destination. On the contrary, we long for the Land that is to come. We are homesick with the hope of Heaven.
The Apostle Paul said it this way. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:18-24)
Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “Have you ever seen a caged bird with its breast or wing bleeding from blows received by crashing against the wire of its cage? The poor creature dreams of the forest and streams. Filled with aspirations for most sublime flight, it stretches its wings and flies upward, only to bring itself into sharp contact with its prison. So it is with us. Our new-born nature, stirred in its inmost depths with longings suitable to its celestial origin, aspires after the joys of heaven, stretching all its wings to move toward perfection. But we who are in this body do groan; we find the flesh to be a prison, and so the more we long the more we pine. And pining, we sigh and cry, and wound our hearts with insatiable desires and bleeding discontents. The pangs of strong desire for the presence of the Lord in glory—who among believers has not felt them? Who among us has not found our flight upward brought to a painful pause by the stern facts of flesh and blood, and earth and sin?”
I’m homesick. Not for Michigan, or any other place I have lived. I’m homesick for the place I want to live forever. I’m homesick for heaven. And so long as God chooses to delay my departure for my true home, I will be homesick. I will go to war in my heart against anything in the present that would distract my attention from the glory of my future. And when I sing, I sing not of the pleasures or possessions of this life, but of the certain hope of inconceivable pleasures and possessions in the Presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Then someday, hopefully soon, I will sing as never before, when I stand before the throne of God and thank Him for bringing me home.