Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What’s Eternity Got To Do With It?

Our church recently sponsored a Christian gentleman to travel to Colorado and speak with us. For years, he has been a tireless worker in the faith and has traveled around the world speaking about his experiences. Ben Alexander is the author of the book Out from Darkness, which details his experience in the world of Satanism and the occult. Thankfully, he was able to see the error of that path, and has been spreading the good news for over forty years.

During one of his lessons, he said something that struck me as important. His words were, “This life has almost nothing to do with this life. It has everything to with eternity.”

That phrase made me stop and reflect for a moment. It’s an unusual statement in that it’s counter-intuitive to almost everything I read in the newspaper and see in the media. And yet, there is more than a nugget of truth in what he said. If my daily strivings have nothing to do with this life, then why do I worry so much about finances, safety, and overall security? Those are the things that get so much attention every day – from paying the car insurance, to fretting about the stock market, to praying for my wife and children to have a safe trip on the highway when visiting friends in Denver. Before you start to protest, please understand that I’m not suggesting we should avoid insurance coverage or that we stop praying for our families.

So much of our lives are devoted to thinking about the future – but is often limited to the future in this life only. Matthew 6:25 comes to mind – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” I’ve often read these words and thought that Jesus is much more pragmatic about the future than I can ever be. This was especially true when my own children were born, and my whole perspective about what was important was forever changed. The safety and security of my wife, son and two daughters seems paramount to me. I can’t imagine life without them.

So here’s the hard part. Do I really trust that God holds the future in His hands? Deep down I know that He does, but I have to truly let go and believe that He reigns over my life and the life of those I love. For me, giving up control is a very hard thing to do (I come by this trait honestly). But it is this very freedom that God offers to me, if I will have enough faith.

Once again, like so many things, it comes down to having an eternal perspective. If I can just see this life as an infinitesimal blip in the entire quantity of time that God offers to me, then I will be closer to understanding His plan. A lifetime on earth often seems so long, but compared to an eternity, it is nothing. And if I realize that eternity holds the promise of being with my loved ones forever, then the wealth that I might enjoy on this earth or even the length of my own life becomes less meaningful. But that is hard to live out in practicality. The concept of eternity is often overlooked, and is difficult to grasp even when reflected upon.

Jesus speaks on this topic in Luke 21:34-36 – “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” It’s clear that Jesus wants us to focus on the life that is to come, and to be prepared for the day He comes back.

Because this life has everything to do with eternity.

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