This it the third of a trilogy of posts about the longing for home (see here and here for the previous two). I previously talked about the warm feelings about returning home after being gone for a period of time, and the longing in my heart for a return to this time in my past. I also talked about the dreams of what heaven might be like, as expressed in song.
Heaven has a different connotation to everyone. For some, especially those who have not looked much into it, heaven is angels with harps, floating from cloud to cloud. Popular culture views it as clouds with a golden gate, and St. Peter either letting you in or not. It can be viewed as an experience of pretty much every dream coming true; rent and watch Robin Williams 1998 movie What Dreams May Come to see one concept of this. ((Recognize that the concept presented in Williams’ film, though emotionally moving, does not fit with what the Bible tells about the afterlife. The movie seems to reveal no clear evidence of God, and it is possible to leave the hell that you have yourself have created yourself, if you just have the right help.))
The problem with trying to describe what heaven might be like is that we have really very little description of it in the Bible. The experience of death and what comes afterward is addressed only in general. There are some examples that Jesus used to illustrate a point (the rich man and Lazarus, for example, in Luke 16:19-31). We see in Revelation the visions of the apostle John of the end of days, both events on earth as well as events in heaven. But none of these descriptions really address the question of what exactly will happen to me when I die.
Because of these limitations in specifics, poets and song writers have had to take the various clues provided in the Bible and use them to try to explain what it might be like. What we do know about heaven is:
• admission to heaven is based entirely on what Jesus did for me, and my acceptance of it
• heaven will be forever, and in the presence of Jesus
• worship is the major event of heaven
Based on these certain Biblical statements about heaven, writers in the Church over the ages have added their own guesses and opinions, which try address the blank spots in our understanding of heaven. This is where the harps, angels, and clouds have entered our cultural understanding. Are they true? Perhaps … but recognize that they are all just guesses.
The best descriptions of heaven (to me) are the ones that explain it in terms of the feelings associated. That brings me back to the whole concept of home. The place where I am welcome, where I am loved, and where I belong.
Which brings me to the song lyrics for this post. Home Where I Belong was written by Pat Terry in 1976, and that year appeared on the album Songs Of The South. It was also recorded by B.J. Thomas as the title song on his first Christian music album in the same year. I like both versions, but I have a better quality copy of the Pat Terry version, so I’m going to include that version here:
They say that heaven’s pretty, and living here is too
But if they said that I would have to choose between the two
I’d go home, going home where I belong
Sometimes when I’m dreaming, it comes as no surprise
That if you’ll look you’ll see the homesick feeling in my eyes
I’m going home, I’m going home where I belong
While I’m here I’ll serve Him gladly, sing Him all these songs
I’m here, but not for long
When I’m feeling lonely, and when I’m feeling blue
It’s such a joy to know that I am only passing through
I’m headed home, I’m going home where I belong
One day I’ll be sleeping when Death knocks on my door
And I’ll awake to find that I’m not homesick any more
‘Cause I’ll be home, I’ll be home where I belong