By definition, a Christian is someone who lives not for this life but for that life that’s yet to come. In Philippians 3:20, Paul states, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine being an American soldier serving in Iraq, thousands and thousands of miles from home. You’re in Iraq because you have a mission in Iraq, but Iraq isn’t your home.

What are you thinking about every day?

Obviously, you’re thinking about what you’ve temporarily left behind—your family, your friends, and cheeseburgers at McDonalds.

And every chance you get, what are you doing?

You’re calling home, Skyping with your spouse, writing emails, and maybe getting on Facebook if the military allows that.

So you have a mission in Iraq and you’re devoted to that mission, but that’s not where your heart is. Your heart isn’t in Iraq—it’s in America with your family. And everything you do in Iraq, you do in anticipation of returning home very soon. You’re probably counting down the days.

That’s what Christian’s like also. A Christian isn’t living for this present life.

Sure, maybe they get moderate enjoyment from a few things like sports, hobbies or things like that, but that’s not where their heart is.

A Christian’s heart is in heaven. That’s what they’re living for, that’s what they’re yearning for, and that’s where they so desire to be that they would literally be counting down the days if they knew how many days it would be.

Do you have that kind of anticipation? Do you have that kind of yearning?

And here’s something else to think about. Every time we experience suffering in this life, it should intensify our yearning for heaven. It should be a reminder to us that this world is not our home and should make us yearn and ache for our heavenly home that much more.

In Romans 8, Paul describes it as groaning. He says, in verses 18-19, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. [that is, the time when we’ll experience heavenly glory].”

Then, Paul continues on in verses 22-24, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.

Did you notice what effect our sufferings should have on us? They should make us “groan” all the more, and yearn all the more, for the time when we’ll be with God in heaven.

So is that the way you long for heaven? Is there a deep longing and aching in your soul not just to be free from earthly suffering but to see Jesus face-to-face? 

Think again about the way an American soldier in Iraq looks at pictures of his family, Skypes with his wife, and counts down the days until he gets to come home. Is that way in which you’re longing for heaven and filled with anticipation of being there?

For many who profess to be Christians, I’m afraid that we sometimes get a little too comfortable down here in the war zone. In fact, that may be the case more often than we’d like to admit.

Imagine an American soldier forgetting all about America and instead making preparations for a life in Iraq—maybe purchasing a business in Iraq, becoming very close friends with local Iraqis, and beginning to talk in Arabic all the time.

That would be very odd and probably very concerning. But I would submit to you that it’s no less odd and no less concerning when a Christian is more wrapped up in this present life than they are in the life that is to come.

Should we not yearn for heaven with the same yearning with which an American soldier years for his home?

Once we do, I believe that we’ll find more than a little of the joys of heaven even here on earth.