Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a bit about my eternal Hope. My friend Angie has been encouraging me for a while to read the book ‘Heaven’, by Randy Alcorn, and I’ve been dipping into it. And it’s been speaking deeply to my heart.
Alcorn, Dr R. (2004). Heaven. ed. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Knowing you have a certain, amazing, satisfied, beyond-your-wildest-dreams eternal future because you belong to Jesus sure changes your attitude towards life in the here and now.
This is, after all, a disappointing world. We glimpse little bits of satisfaction, only to leave us craving for more. Our bodies wear out and grow old. We never have the time or the opportunity or the energy to do all the things we wish we could do. Dreams can crumble to dust. And sometimes life breaks our hearts in ways we never dreamed it could.
And that’s for us over here in the west, who, in some ways, have it so good. What about those in Syria right now, facing bombs and starvation and heartbreaking grief? What about those who lost everything in the earthquakes in Nepal? What about those who live on the streets of Mumbai, never knowing who their parents are?
If this life is all there is, it would be easy to be cynical… or to try to squeeze out everything from it we can… only to find ourselves disappointed and endlessly craving more.
But this isn’t the only life there is.
Eternity will follow, much sooner than we realise, in one of two destinations.
If you are trusting in Christ as your Saviour and following Him as Lord (and you can do that now), this life is only the very beginning. As C.S. Lewis put it in the last battle, it’s only the first page of the story.
“But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
p.172, Lewis, C.S. (1996). The Last Battle. ed. London: Diamond Books.
Those who are trusting in Christ have an endless, eternal future of bliss awaiting us.
And the heartbeat of that eternal joy is knowing Him: the One Who can satisfy our deepest longings with Himself in ways we could never dream possible.
And how can that change the here and now?
If you know that all of our your dreams will come true forever and ever, you don’t need to be discouraged if they don’t come true now. You can focus your heart on building God’s Kingdom, knowing He will take care of you.
If you know that you are, in Heaven’s terms, a multi-millionaire in what really matters, you are free to live simply and give extravagantly because you are eternally rich.
If you know that you have an eternal hope, you don’t need to be jealous of anyone else. You can pour out your life in free and abandoned service of others.
If you belong to Jesus, you don’t need to let the most excruciating pains of this life take your hope. You never need to despair. They are working for you an eternal weight of glory.
‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
If you belong to Jesus, you don’t need to guard your life. You can give it away. Giving it away will only multiply your eternal blessings, anyway.
The more you think about it, the more you realise that having an eternal hope changes everything. Knowing that you are rich beyond your wildest dreams frees you up to live with a light hold on this life, giving yourself away, because you are eternally secure in hope.
As Paul tells the believers in Corinth, ultimately, it’s all theirs.
‘Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.’ 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
Really? Like, all things? We learn in Psalm 37 that the meek will inherit the whole earth. The whole earth? Really?
‘But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.’ Psalm 37:11
It’s all ours, if we are His.
This is shadow land. That is the reality.
Diamond rings? Cars? The moon?
Your wildest dreams?
It’s all too small. Our dreams aren’t big enough.
We won’t even begin to imagine what He will give us.
‘But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”’ 1 Corinthians 2:9
‘Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.’ Psalm 37:4
And don’t buy the lie that God’s people will just sit on clouds and be bored forever. Really? If you look into the Bible, you glimpse something very different: a real, physical, curse-free reality. A real, physical reality where all the brokenness has gone and everything is astoundingly, unimaginably, crazily good.
We glimpse it sometimes, don’t we?
Have you ever stood on top of a mountain and wanted to somehow eat the beauty; to taste it forever? I bet you can in the new earth.
Have you ever been touched by stirring music and tasted something you never wanted to let go of? Maybe it was an echo of something eternal.
Have you ever known moments of precious relationship with others that suddenly felt free and honest and safe? Relationships will be wonderfully perfect there.
And, most of all, have you tasted moments of being in God’s presence? The amazing joy and love and peace that suddenly satisfies your deepest soul? In Heaven, God will be our portion forever, with nothing in between.
For eternity, it will all be satisfied.
But, actually, none of the stuff of this life really matters after all. If we only want things in Heaven, and not God, we don’t really know what it means to surrender to Christ as Lord, because He is really the Prize. If we only want the blessings, maybe we don’t truly know Him. He is the Fountain that satisfies.
‘”For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”‘ Jeremiah 2:13
Because everything is empty compared to knowing Him.
And, forever, He will satisfy.
‘You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’ Psalm 16:11
Yes, He will give blessings, too. In crazy, astounding ways we could not begin to dream of now.
But, most of all, He will satisfy with Himself.
Think about it a bit (and make sure that it will be yours!).
Pray about it. Dream about it.
I bet it will change how you see the here and now. I know it’s helping me. It isn’t all about this life. But this life is about investing in the next. And knowing that the next is so good can sure bring joy and hope into this one!
‘Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”’ Revelation 21:1-4
(Getting to Heaven isn’t automatic. And there is an alternative that is automatic: Hell. As astoundingly good as Heaven will be, Hell will astoundingly horrific… forever.
‘But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.’ Revelation 21:27
There is a way to have your name written in the Book of Life and to escape Hell through the forgiveness God freely offers because Jesus Christ died in your place, taking the punishment you deserve… if you will turn from your wrong and receive His forgiveness, surrendering your life to Him as your Lord. This life is nothing compared to eternity. Don’t risk it! Come to Him today).
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.