I’m so struck by this verse. You and I are to set our hope fully on the grace that’s coming up ahead. What is this “grace” referring to? We know from the context that it’s heaven: “…an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (v. 4).
Fully. He is calling us to put all of our hope in our promised Paradise. All of it. All of our eggs in one basket, so to speak. If we set all of our hope on heaven, this means that we set none of it on earthly things. Practically speaking, it means we don’t base our hope on whether we can buy that beautiful home of our dreams. Our hope is not to be based on material possessions. It is not to be based on acquiring a certain amount of social status or success. It is not even to be based on having a loving family. It is not to be based on finding happiness in this life. If we take this verse seriously, all of our hope is to be set on heaven. Absolutely all of it.
Now, none of that is to say that any of the above desires are bad. On the contrary, God puts important desires in our hearts that He fully intends to satisfy with beautiful gifts here on this earth. Desiring His good gifts, and setting our hope on them, however, are two very different things.
What is the difference? It comes down to this. Where are we anchoring our soul? The Bible says that our hope is to be an anchor for our soul (Heb. 6:19). What you put your hope in, then, is what you are using as your anchor. Again, we can and should ask ourselves, where am I anchoring my soul? Is it in His promise of eternal life with Him in paradise?
Setting this much hope on heaven can be challenging to many of us. Heaven can seem so far away, so theoretical. Jesus is inviting us to ask of Him – to ask Him to make it real to our hearts. Only He can do that for us.
Here’s a thought that may help with this. This is how God refers to the end of the world: “For [Jesus] must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21, NLT). Heaven means just that – the restoration of all things. Jesus also beautifully expresses this, prophesying to us about heaven, in the book of Revelation. First, He gives us the breathtaking announcement that there will be no more pain there. Then He announces, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5, ESV).
What does restoration mean, then? It means that He takes something precious to you, and He makes it new. Heaven is going to be everything wholesome that is precious to you. Everything that has been life-giving to you on this earthly sojourn will be restored to you in Heaven. Everything that nurtures your soul will be there, only a million billion times more so. Every bit of beauty that has ever taken your breath away will seem pale and shadowy in comparison to the exquisite sights and sounds that your enhanced five senses will take in there. Joy that far surpasses the most euphoric happiness you have tasted will surge through you continually. Best of all, His intimate, loving presence will saturate you unceasingly.
You are not going to float on a cloud with a harp for eternity watching naked cherubs flit by you. Heaven is going to feel like home so much more than your home right now even does. God doesn’t tell us to look forward to heaven because He is demanding and unrealistic. He tells us to do so because He knows. He knows that going there will be exceedingly better than our life ever has been on earth. If you ask Him to, He’ll make it so real to you that you can taste it.
Here’s how we partner with that. When you anticipate something, it occupies your thoughts. You and I get to choose our meditation here on earth day to day. Let’s ask Him to give us a glorious obsession with the Home He has gone to prepare for us. Let’s feed that obsession, disciplining our thoughts to turn frequently to the bliss He has promised up ahead. Let’s do it. Let’s set our hope fully on the stunning grace that is to come when He is revealed.
Does heaven seem real to you? Do you think about it often?