But it happens that many, from frequent hearing of the Gospel, are conscious of little longing for it, because they have not the spirit of Christ. But he who wishes fully and with relish to know the words of Christ, must be zealous to bring his whole life into conformity with him.Thomas a’ Kempis
It is vanity to hope for long life and to take little thought for a good life. It is vanity to attend only to the present life, and not look forward to things to come. It is vanity to love that which passes with all speed away, and not to be hastening thither where endless joy abides.
“Know heaven to be the only treasure and labor to know also what a treasure it is. Be convinced once that you have no other happiness, and then be convinced what happiness is there. If you do not soundly believe it to be the chiefest good, you will never set your heart upon it; and this conviction must sink into your affections; for if it be only a notion, it will have little power. As long as your judgments undervalue it, your affections will be cold towards it. If your judgments once prefer the delights of the flesh before the delights in the presence of God, it will be impossible for your heart to be in heaven. As it is the ignorance of the emptiness of things below that makes men so over value them, so it is ignorance of the high delights above, which cause men to so little care about them. If you see a purse of gold, and believe it to be nothing but stones, it will not entice your affections to it. It is not a thing’s excellency in itself, but it is excellency known that provokes desire. If an ignorant man sees a book containing the secrets of arts or sciences, yet he values it no more than something common, it is because he knows not what is in it: but he that knows it, highly values it; his very mind is set up on it.”Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest
The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 22
57. Question: What comfort does the resurrection of the body offer you?
Answer: Not only shall my soul after this life immediately be taken up to Christ, my Head, but also this my flesh, raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.
 Luke 16:22; 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23.  Job 19:25, 26; I Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54; Phil. 3:21; I John 3:2.
58. Question: What comfort do you receive from the article about the life everlasting?
Answer: Since I now already feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy,  I shall after this life possess perfect blessedness, such as no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived– a blessedness in which to praise God forever.
 John 17:3; Rom. 14:17; II Cor. 5:2, 3.  John 17:24; I Cor. 2:9.
Take God in Christ for your only rest, and fix your heart upon him above all. May the living God, who is the portion and rest of his saints, make our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving him and delighting in him may be the work of our lives; and that neither I nor you may ever be turned from this path of life… The saint’s rest is the most happy state of a Christian. It is the perfect endless enjoyment of God by the perfected saints…Richard Baxter
The title of this blog comes from a line in The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Toward the end of the story, Frodo finds himself at the Grey Havens, ready to sail off to the undying lands. After saying goodbye to his friends, we find these words,
And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
In the movie, Peter Jackson placed these words in the mouth of Gandalf, in an exchange with Pippin, but it was just as powerful. Here’s the scene…
We are indeed on a journey as some of my favorite books remind me, and we will all encounter death. It is part of the path we all must take. I don’t know about you, but I long for what’s beyond it. As the following post emphasizes, I long for my true home, which is to say, I long for God. I love Gandalf’s faraway look as he reflects on the place he has been. And when Pippin tells him it doesn’t sound all that bad, Gandalf knowingly replies, “no, no it isn’t.” Was this the response of Lazarus when his life was being threatened again? He had been there and done that. What could possibly scare him? Gandalf’s smile, faraway stare, and deep sigh assures Pippin that death does not have the last say. There’s so much more awaiting them. And us.
C.S. Lewis understood this. He wrote often about longing or desire. I hope to share some of my favorite quotations by him in posts to come. Peter Kreeft even goes so far as to call “death,” the one we often think of as our enemy, as a lover. When we are in Christ, to quote the Apostle Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain. It’s a win-win situation.
Now, to be sure, I’m not trying to hurry to the day I stand before the Lord, but as Richard Baxter assures us, there is for those who know Christ, an indescribable rest. Can you imagine anything better? To rest in the very presence of God himself?
I will enjoy my life God has given me in the here and now. I will seek his glory each and every day. But one day, when the Lord calls me home, I will look for that far green country under a swift sunrise.