Longing for the Return of Jesus

I remember seeing my grandparents for the first time in six years at DIA back in 2012. Three days of grueling solo travel brought me from rural South Africa vineyards to the towering Rockies. I stumbled off the plane, gasping for oxygen and trying to ignore an upset stomach that had endured just a little too much plane food. My body ached, and I was on the verge of crying with all the feelings of moving across the planet for college. South Africa and all I'd known seemed very far away.

A single line from an email I'd received just a few days prior kept me from bursting into tears at the baggage claim: “We’ll be there waiting for you. Promise.”

I found my baggage, noted that only one suitcase had been tampered with, and stepped into the line winding toward a grumpy customs agent. The prayer I had prayed thousands of times in my missionary-kid life mumbled off my lips, “Please, God—just let me through.”

A stamp on my documents, a thumb toward the exit gates, and I was welcomed back into what was, according to my passport, my home country. Unfamiliar American faces milled through the terminal. A horrible feeling of lost-ness tightened around my chest.

And then, there they were—a promise kept. My grandfather in his iconic caterpillar mustache and my grandmother with her vivid red lipstick. “Elsa!” Open arms, the scent of cardamom from my grandmother’s sweater, and the rough scrape of my grandfather’s pocket protector against my cheek. Just like that, weary waiting blossomed into “home.” Fear melted away, and the long journey was safely at an end.

Eleven years later, this third pregnancy has me waiting wearily and eagerly for a resolution to this particular journey. I’m tired of wobbly joints. I’m tired of waiting for the unknown. I’m tired of waiting for this promise of new life to be fulfilled.

Ultimately, though, I'm so tired of waiting to go Home. To Jesus. And God very much wired each of us this way. He’s placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We're just strangers passing through on our way to Heaven. I've only lived for twenty-eight years, but I'm beginning to suspect that the Lord won't let me get too comfortable here on earth.

A Lord-willing simple delivery of a healthy baby won’t fill the heaven-shaped hole in my heart. True rest won’t come on a fresh mattress from Costco. No matter how many packages the Amazon guy leaves on my doormat, I will never be satisfied.

The night before His death, around a supper table, Jesus addressed this soul-deep hunger for Home and He made a promise to return to the people whom He redeemed:

“If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself that where I am, you may be also." (John 14:2-3)

These last, long days of pregnancy sharpen my hunger for Christ’s return. Maybe that's intentional on God's part--to remind me that my faith should be like the simple trust of a very young child in the goodness and provision of his parents (Luke 18:16-17). Jesus will keep His promise to bring me Home. And that hope of Christ's return gives me strength to live faithfully in obedience.

Jesus is coming back for us, friend. He promised. And it could be even today. Let this hope cheer your heart and renew your love for Him. Let's limp toward Heaven together, guided by the One who will never leave us nor forsake us and who has never broken a promise (Matthew 28:19-20).

Let's wait eagerly for Jesus, like we wait for a familiar face at the airport. Like a toddler waits for her daddy to come home. Like we wait for a newborn's first cry.

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