You are eternal. That is a seriously long time!
I remember laying in my bed one afternoon many, many years ago trying to grasp the concept of eternity. I closed my eyes and kept picturing billions of stars one after the other. I kept travelling further and further out in my mind, knowing there was never an end. After about thirty minutes of mental imaginings, the idea that there really is no end point ever really sunk in and blew me away.
Without the understanding of eternity, of grasping the fact that your soul, your energy, goes on and on and on without end, scripture doesn’t make much sense. How we as Christians face opposition, trials, temptation, rude behavior—everything really—makes no sense in the short term. But when you consider that this lifetime as a mere drop in the vast ocean of eternity, faith crystallizes and becomes clear.
Consider the following:
For the joy set before him (Jesus) he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. (Matthew 5:11-12a)
You have been taught to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you—in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven. He, after all, loves each of us—good and evil, kind and cruel. He causes the sun to rise and shine on evil and good alike. He causes the rain to water the fields of the righteous and the fields of the sinner. It is easy to love those who love you—even a tax collector can love those who love him. And it is easy to greet your friends—even outsiders do that! But you are called to something higher: “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)
These are not something anyone would ever do apart from the Lord! But it's a fact, and holding tightly to this truth is the only way to get through this preview to eternity we call "life."
The odd surprise I've found is that when I live with eternity in view, my life here on Earth improves. Not holding on to anger and hate allows me to experience greater joy and peace, and these feelings are no longer based on my circumstances. When my hope gets battered or my perceptions of how things should be gets challenged, I remember there is something so much greater than me to lean on. My Creator, the giver of eternal life.
Even when I'm persecuted unfairly, whether at work or even from friends and family, I have hope. I know God is fighting on my behalf in the heavenly realms long before I'm cognizant of His presence. Knowing I'm not alone in what I'm experiencing, that I can emotionally lean into Jesus for strength and comfort, that there is something much greater ahead than what I'm currently experiencing, is huge!
The challenge for you and me is to remember. Remember that there is so much more to life than we can see and understand. Remember that each of us are but one thread in a massive tapestry woven together over centuries, part of a greater story that will last throughout all generations. We might not understand why our one thread has to go this way or through that, but God does. The Creator weaves it all together into something beautiful, something wondrous.
As we begin the approach into resurrection Sunday, let's be reminded to hold onto hope. To remember that, like the old hymn says, "this world is not my home - I'm just passing through." And let us live out our lives in a way that reflects the kindness, compassion and caring heart of Jesus because we, too, have found something much greater than ourselves to live for. Both in this life and the next.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: Meditate on the thought that you are an eternal being. How might that change the way you handle trials? Rude people? Your decision making? Your focus? Knowing the Creator is in complete control, what would you let go of that you are currently carrying?
Spend some time this week journaling about what a faith-filled life that reflects Jesus would look like for you on a day-to-day basis. Then, pick one actionable item you can put into place to reflect that eternal focus.
PRAYER: Papa, thank you that you have come to give us life to the full, and afterwards eternity. Your care and concern, your loving kindness can both overwhelm my soul with gratitude yet sometimes be hard to grasp. Open my eyes today to see your Spirit moving in my life. Allow me to be more aware of your presence, and to treat the people I'm around and the circumstances I'm in with an eternal perspective. Most of all, help me to remember that you value each and every one of us. Empower me with your supernatural strength to do the same. In Jesus' name, Amen.
To learn more about author & motivational speaker Barb Lownsbury or to have her speak at your next event, CLICK HERE.