First Thessalonians 4:13-18 seems to indicate that not until Jesus returns will we believers go to heaven. I have always thought that we go to heaven when we die. What am I misunderstanding?
The passage you cite deals with the resurrection of our bodies. When we die, between the time of our dying and rising, our souls are indeed in heaven. But our bodies are obviously dead and moldering in the grave. The subject of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is the raising of our bodies to be reunited with our soulsnecessary preparation for the eternal state. The great event can be thought of as a resurrection of the body, a reunion of changed and resurrected bodies with their respective owners, and a meeting in the air with the Lord from heaven for history's grandest entrance into heaven. The prospect thrills our souls, or ought to.