In our whirlwind lives of busyness, small issues, big issues, tragedy, comedy, relationships and work, why should we even bother with this whole “calling” business? Why do we want to strive for something? What’s the point at the end? Sure, it might make life a little more interesting now, give us a deeper sense of purpose or fulfillment, but in the end we all die anyway.
There are lots of basic “human” reasons we can come up with to explain why everyone should follow their calling anyway. We point to the legacy people leave for their children, or how someone has significantly improved the quality of life in their community. Some people do find enormous satisfaction and success in their work. Others have more love, joy and peace in their families and friendships. These are all great things, but are they enough to be worth the hard work? What if our callings don’t work out like we planned? What if we have to sacrifice more than we thought possible – what if no one calls our life a success in human terms? Why do we follow a calling then?
The answer is Heaven. Without Heaven, none of our work would be worthwhile. In the introduction to his book, Things Unseen, Mark Buchanan writes,
“Heaven is meant to be our fixation – our Big Fix. It’s to be our deep secret, like being in love, where just the thought of it carries us through menial chores or imparts to us courage in the face of danger. We fix on it, and it fixes us.”
C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” Without the promise of Heaven, good work here hardly makes sense, callings aren’t worth the risk. Why improve the world for awhile when all we’re going to do is leave it someday? But Jesus teaches us to pray “Your Kingdom come, on Earth as it is in Heaven” and so we’re called to be part of revealing glimpses of Heaven in this broken world, as foreshadowing, as prophecy, pointing the way. We are the pre-dawn colors anticipating the sun rise. We show that good work is worth doing here because of what is to come.
Heaven is our great reward, the fulfillment of all our hopes and longings, longings that we all know will never be fulfilled here on earth, no matter how hard we try. Even though we know this, we often don’t search for what will fulfill us. Many of us don’t have any sense of Heaven. It’s an impractical nebulous concept to fix our minds on. It sounds like a boring never-ending church service in the clouds. We’re not very good with intangibles at the best of times and to long for something we don’t understand is hard.
But there are clues if we look. Buchanan gives us a sketch of Heaven:
Imagine a time when you did a good work. You were exhilarated, had a euphoric sense of breakthrough and accomplishment. You felt an honest pride in a task well done. You were thankful and humble all at once. You experienced community. Others gave heart and soul to the work. You needed one another. You told each other so.
And imagine a time of good rest. You felt completely relaxed and restored. No worries trouble your waking or your sleeping. You had nothing you had to do and were free for anything you chose. You could fish or sleep or read or garden. The tenseness and tiredness in you vanished. You began to think clearly, pray freely, play joyfully. You entered deeply into fellowship and worship, into silence and laughter, and found a healing rhythm for all of it. You experienced shalom, the flourishing re-creative vitality of God’s breath moving through you.
Imagine now those two things joined seamlessly together, every flaw in them removed and the whole never fading.
If you’ve never spent much time thinking about Heaven, maybe it’s time. It’s more important for daily life, for today than we realize. Focusing on Heaven changes our perspective. Buchanan notes that, “This is our best hope of growing in both freedom and holiness. The degree to which we do not set our heart and mind on things above is the degree to which we will stall and grow bitter, become bored or afraid down here.”
When we see people living out their callings, we see courageous people, alive, motivated, hopeful, moving towards something. They’ve had a vision, a glimpse of Heaven and they now reflect that light into the world.