“Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:16)
He’s in the middle of a thriving culture, the middle of an extensive family in the middle of his father’s house. He’s the middle of it all, and he leaves–never to return. Abraham chooses exile. Like a fugitive, he leaves the safety and identity of the past behind and follows a call into the middle of nothing and nowhere, searching for the place that is beyond all.
Searching, always searching, Abraham keeps searching for the perfect place. Nothing and nowhere else will do. The only place his weary limbs can rest is in the perfect place.
In the middle of his search, Isaac appears like a kiss from heaven, bringing a smile to Abraham’s dessert-cracked face. Yet once again, in the middle of it all, Abraham is told to go forth. Before, he left his past behind. Now, he must leave his future behind. On the sacred mountain, Abraham said goodbye to his inheritance and offers Isaac to God. In the middle of the sacrifice, an angel stops him and offers a ram instead. Isaac lives, yet Abraham has already left.
He is searching, looking for his inheritance: the city of God. From time to time, he sees a faint glimpse of a glory that surpasses all glory. And this glory is enough to keep the search alive.
So often, we reject pilgrimage and instead look for heaven on earth. We have fewer dangers and enjoy more freedoms and luxuries than any people throughout history, and somehow, we think we deserve more.
So we look for perfect marriages, perfect jobs, perfect houses, perfect friendships, perfect vacations and perfect churches. Yet none of these exist. We are not in heaven. Rather, we’ve been called to pilgrimage.
In the middle of it all, we are invited to leave. In the middle of our high-paying jobs, in the middle of our comfortable homes, in the middle of our fractured families, we are called to pilgrimage. We are called to a city whose author and founder is God.
As exiles on this earth, we wander and wonder, receiving every breath as a gift from our father in heaven. He is leading us through the land of letting go so that we might rest in the land of warm embrace.
Instead of worrying about why we don’t have the fastest car or the biggest house or the perfect life, let us welcome the invitation to journey and celebrate each moment on the way to our Father’s house.
Father, help me to let go of the “heaven on earth” I try to make for myself. I want to know in my heart of hearts that my true home is not this world, but it is with You in heaven. As I journey through this life, keep me thankful and faithful.