If you have ever been to London, you have probably ridden on the Tube, the city’s subway system. The first time I traveled there on business, I felt intimidated until I learned how easy it is to get around. As in many cities, the various subway lines are color-coded so you have merely to pinpoint your destination on the map and then take the appropriately colored line to reach it. To figure out which way to go, you simply locate the last stop on the route in the direction of your destination. Since each route is labeled according to its final destination, it is easy to avoid hopping a train heading the wrong way. So if you are at Westminster and want to go to Whitechapel, for instance, you have to take the green line labeled Upminster.
As in my experience of traveling by subway, it helps to have our final destination in view, lest we lose our way along the journey. In his first letter, Peter says that all who follow Christ are “temporary residents and foreigners” (1 Peter 2:11). Likewise, Paul reminds us that we are citizens of heaven and not of earth. In practical terms, that means it’s a mistake to treat this life as though it’s all there is, trying to squeeze from it everything our hearts desire and then letting inevitable disappointments cast shadows on our faith.
Paul Tripp points out that even if we are confused on this point, “God always responds to us with eternity in view.”1 No wonder we don’t always get what we ask for. God is using a different timeline, a different end goal, allowing the difficulties and trials we face to shape us toward heaven. Peace comes, in part, from letting go of our limited time horizon in order to grasp hold of the eternity God promises.
- Paul Tripp, Forever: Why You Can’t Live without It (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 34.