“Where is My Home?”: Cultivating Longing for Eternity in Our Communities and Ministries

On a fine Sunday afternoon, a couple from church invited me and some fellow music ministry members to their house. We had a great time together, sharing a meal, playing board games, and having pleasant conversation. Later, a missionary family joined us, and we praised the Lord in music for about an hour. It was such a sweet time of fellowship.

Later that evening, I came home to finish packing before leaving for a trip to Korea (where I am from). As I entered my apartment, one question flashed across my mind: “Where is my home?” (What a timely question!). This question brought a wave of emotions that were hard to explain. I had felt this way a few times before, especially after having an extended, heartfelt fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.  

Longing for Eternity: A Strange Experience Seeking for Familiarity

I decided to call this emotion: longing for eternity (“영원을 향한 갈망,” young-one ul hyang-han gal-mang in Korean). Maybe I am over-spiritualizing my experience, but I think that all people—both Christians and non-Christians—have felt similar emotions. This is because we all share something deep within the core of our humanity: we are beings created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27).

One definitive feature of this experience is that it accompanies an overwhelming sense of pointing-towardness: it points me toward something, someone, and somewhere. Let me unpack what I mean. In terms of something, longing for eternity builds my appetite for the worship of our Lord and fellowship in him. In terms of someone, it cultivates my love for Christ himself and his avid followers. In terms of somewhere, it dazzles my eyes with the brilliant vision of one place: the kingdom of God’s beloved Son where I will rejoice in something with someone for eternity.

In this sense, the experience of “longing for eternity” is not simply (or not primarily) about the duration of time; rather, it is a fundamental eagerness, an endless search for the ultimate activity that we want to pursue, the dearest persons that we want to surround ourselves with, and the most peaceful place that we want to dwell forever. Perhaps my Sunday afternoon was an appetizer of the main course that is yet to come, a shadow of an actual object, and a typological experience that points me to the archetype—the ultimate experience.

Many Scripture passages describe the splendour of this somewhere that the longing for eternity points us toward: it is where our Lord prepares many rooms for us (John 14:1-4) and our citizenship belongs (Phil 3:20-21). It is a paradise (Luke 23:43) with boundless green pastures and still waters for us to eat, rest, and rejoice (Psalm 23:1-2). Above all, it is where we will see our Creator face to face (1 Cor 13:12) and all our tears will be wiped away by him (Rev 21:4). Foreseeing the beauty and wonder of this glorious somewhere, our ancestors of faith “confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth” (Heb 11:13b, CSB).

Implications for Our Communities and Ministries

What does this longing for eternity have to do with our counselling ministry? Here is my simple answer: our community and all our ministries must strive to cultivate our people’s longing for eternity by stimulating their spiritual, heavenward tastebuds. Each community and ministry can creatively promote flavours of the divine somewhere, by actively involving something joyful, and zealously calling a wandering someone.

When rightly applied, this principle of longing for eternity will radically change our practice of preaching, singing, praying, teaching, fellowshipping, and one-anothering. For example, in counselling, we can help our counsellees to understand their life story in light of God’s grand story, so that they can actively reinterpret it and live it out to please and glorify the Lord. In short, we should endeavour to constantly renew and re-form our community and ministries based on this longing for eternity.

“So what?” This renewal of community and ministry—informed and saturated by longing for eternity—may sound abstract. However, this renewal and reformation is a God-ordained opportunity for us to use God-given creativity in our application of Scripture for ministering to God-entrusted congregants. One example is Psalm 131 which I have preached and counselled many times:

Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
too great or too wondrous for me.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted my soul
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like a weaned child.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
both now and forever.

As a song of ascents, this psalm pictures how our journey of faith should be, as we continue the pilgrimage of our lives just as the “ascents” climbed up to Jerusalem and the temple in it which were on a high hill. Considering that “a new heaven and a new earth” is also called the holy city, “the new Jerusalem” (Rev 21:1-2), our march toward heaven—the glorious eternity portrayed by something, someone, and somewhere—must look like David’s march pictured in Psalm 131 beautifully: taking baby steps of faith.

Instead of trying to achieve things that are too great or too wondrous, we should humble our hearts and fix our eyes on God, the life-creating Father. Instead of filling our souls with the loud voices of the world, we ought to listen to the gentle whisper of God the life-giving Son. Instead of putting our hope in temporary things or beings, we must put our hope and trust in God, the life-sanctifying and glorifying Spirit.

Conclusion: Long for Eternity

As we keep eternity in focus, one of the goals of biblical counselling ministry is: (1) to cultivate in counsellees’ an appetite for divine simplicity in the land of artificial complexities; (2) to point them toward the one and only God in the land of multiple gods; so that, (3) they can look forward to where they truly belong: “the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:10b).


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