Forever is a Long Time

What does it mean to “live with an eternal perspective?” It’s a phrasing that we’re familiar with in the Church, but I feel like it’s also a phrase that is ambiguous and not fully understood.

We’ve heard the verses before:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

We’ve sung the songs before:

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never-ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame

From the Inside Out | Hillsong United

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day, when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face

There Will Be A Day | Jeremy Camp

But something tells me that, more often than not, we’ve never lived it before.

I’ve heard it explained in this way once: Imagine you’re in a relationship. A committed and loving marriage with the guy/girl of your dreams. You love this person with all of your heart. Sweet love notes, favorite meals, and flowers “just because” are all a part of the arrangement. Why? Do you do those things because the person will not know you care for them otherwise? Do you do them because that IS what love is – giving stuff to another person? No, you do these things because you love them. You do these things to bless them, to bring a smile to their face, to make them feel your love, to show them that you’re in this for real. Love isn’t defined by what you get/give, but it is manifested by the selflessness and others-centeredness you bring to the table.

Now consider our relationship with the Lord.

Oh, how He loves us! Just take into consideration the Cross alone. It was the Father’s WILL to crush the Son and pour out upon Him the fullness of His wrath, in order to redeem us from eternal damnation. That one-time, all-encompassing, once-for-all selfless act of love guaranteed for us an eternity of joy.

The math doesn’t add up, does it? But wait, there’s more…

Not only did God the Father secure an eternity of rejoicing for us in the sacrifice of His beloved Son, but He continues to bless us with the absolute best in life! We have every material, financial, emotional, physical blessing we could ever need – and more! Sure, we find ways to be discontent and we’re always wanting more, “needing” more. But the reality is this: We have all we need in Christ. Everything in addition to Him is a gracious blessing – not a necessity.

All we need to be saved is Christ. But He gives us more – and in abundance – for the sheer joy of seeing our joy. How sweet is that?

We’re all desperate to be with the Lord in heaven. We’re all desperately, anxiously, awaiting on His return to take us Home. So that we can be free of this world, so we can experience the end to all our struggles and fears, so we can walk on streets of gold, play hide-and-seek in the clouds, and have a party in heaven.

Here’s the thing though: Eternity isn’t about us. Yes, in eternity, things will be grand! We won’t have to worry about our finances, our jobs, our educations, our futures. We won’t have the responsibilities and burdens we have in this life. But eternity isn’t an extended vacation that God gives us because He’s the coolest boss to exist and we’re the best employees ever. No folks, eternity is FOR HIM. Eternity is when we get to see Him face to face. Eternity is when we get to praise Him to no end. Eternity is when we get to bless His Name.

Eternity isn’t about us, it’s about Him.

The Bible tells us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. When we serve the Lord on this earth, when we honor Him with our lives, when we obediently follow where He leads, when we bring others to know His Name, we lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven. What are we going to do with treasure in heaven? What could we possibly need it for – the streets are made of gold, after all.

Think of it this way: The Lord has given you the greatest gift of all in His work on the Cross. But He didn’t stop there. Eternity is when we get to give it all back to Him in the form of our praises and thanksgiving and in the exalting of His Name.

When I consider my life and how poorly I have used the time He has given me, my heart becomes so heavy with grief. 24 years – how many treasures have I stored in heaven? I could probably count them on one hand – and that’s being generous. Eternity has no end. We’ll be praising God forever…with no end. And during this time that will never end, I will have so little to offer Him. The thought of not being able to lay crowns at His feet every second of eternity breaks my heart. I love my Jesus. But if He returns right now, I will have so few “just because” gifts for Him. And that just makes my heart so sad, so heavy.

Living with an eternal perspective means to live with the understanding that this isn’t it. There’s an eternity waiting for you. Yes, an eternity free of all suffering and pain, but an eternity that isn’t about you. Being “eternally focused” means that we use this time on earth wisely – because it’s a fraction of a fraction of a nanosecond when compared to eternity. So all this stuff that we whine and complain and cry about – it doesn’t matter. Living in the light of eternity means that we do all, give all, suffer all, for the sake of His glory and His Name – and not that we simply go through the motions, but that we do so with JOY and with HOPE of His coming.

So when eternity comes, what will you have to offer Him? How many crowns will you be able to lay at His feet? How many “just because” gifts will you have for Him, for the sheer joy of seeing His joy?

My prayer is this: That each of us would be transformed by His love, that we would live for His glory, that we would number our days to gain a heart of wisdom, that we would be bold and determined to further His Kingdom, that we would be reflections of His Love on this earth, that we would be eternally focused – setting our minds and the desires of our hearts on the things above, that we wouldn’t be so easily distracted by the temporary, by the present, by the foolish things of this world, but that we would be enthralled by the glory of our King, wooed by the gentleness of our Lover, consumed by zeal for our Father’s house now, and for all eternity.

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 4:9-11

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