“They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” Hebrews 11:16
Have you ever felt the pull of past comforts, wishing things could go back to the way they used to be?
Imagine how Abraham felt. Having once lived in Ur of the Chaldeans, a highly sophisticated culture in ancient times, Abraham responded to the call of God to move to Canaan—a journey which, quite frankly, had its fair share of rough moments. Like the time when there was a great famine (Genesis 12:10) or when Pharaoh took Abe’s wife Sarah into his palace (Genesis 12:15) or the years that Sarah spent as a barren woman when God had promised to make Abraham’s offspring as countless as the stars (Genesis 15:5) or (déjà vu) the time when the king of Gerar took Sarah into his harem (Genesis 20:2) or—the ultimate test—when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his long-awaited son Isaac (Genesis 22:2).
I can almost picture it: Sarah sitting in her tent sulking, telling Abraham, “Remember back in Ur when I used to meet with all of my friends for tea at 3:00 on Friday? I really miss that. What on earth are we doing out here?”
Imagine if Abraham had said, “I know, I miss tennis with my buddies. Let’s go back.” What if he had caved in to the pull of past comforts and had decided to go back to where life was more familiar and more rewarding? Although God had made some amazing promises to Abraham and Sarah, I can’t help but wonder if in the dark moments they struggled with their decision to follow God.
On our journey of faith, you can count on it—the road will be littered with challenges. And the temptation will be to look back and say, “I wish my life could go back to the way it used to be.” When someone offends you, maybe you say to yourself: I remember when I could not only get mad, I could get even. Or when you’re alone at the computer, you think about the rush of adrenalin you used to feel when you looked at forbidden sites. It’s easy to think of how rewarding it would feel to spend all your money on yourself like you used to. The list of things in your past life that beckon you back is long.
But remember who is behind the urge to put your life in reverse. Satan delights to lure us back into the sludge of life the way it used to be—the toxic dump of what ultimately leads to regret, guilt, and brokenness.
So, while life may seem challenging going forward with God, we need to remind ourselves that in spite of the challenges, God is taking us to a better place. The writer of Hebrews sheds some light on this when, speaking of Abraham and Sarah, he tells us, “They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. . . . If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Remember that you are “aliens and strangers.” You’re on a journey, and you don’t belong here in the first place. And remember where you are headed—to a better place. Don’t let the potholes damage your resolve!
- What are some situations that cause you to feel the lure of past comforts?
- Do you feel like an “alien and stranger on earth,” or are you pretty comfortable here? What types of things should make you feel uncomfortable?
- Although they lived thousands of years before us, what can we learn from the journey of Abraham and Sarah? In what ways can you identify with the challenges they faced?
- What are some tangible ways to focus your attention and hopes on what’s ahead, rather than on what’s behind you?