Reach for Eternity

Exalted_Above_the_Hills_wide_t_ntOn the night before Jesus died, he informed his disciples that he would shortly be leaving.

He said,

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Two times in this passage the word “prepare” occurs in the context of eternity. Remember, preparing in advance is a major challenge for the procrastinator. Simply apply that truth to the scope of your entire life, and you will understand what Jesus knew—you ought to be preparing for eternity. The Bible encourages us to live with the recognition that this world is not all there is. C.S. Lewis believed that most Christians lived as if this world were their home and heaven was a far and distant land. He challenged his generation to reverse the metaphor. He said that we were living in the far country and heaven was our home. Imagine that you are an American Citizen, with a two-week vacation scheduled in Europe. Would you not attempt to do as much as you could in those 14 days, knowing that you would shortly be returning to your homeland? When we are reaching for eternity we won’t procrastinate on the tasks that are before us because—in light of eternity—this life is so short-lived. Knowing that our citizenship is in heaven, should change the way that we spend our time on earth.

When I speak or serve in another part of the world, I often think that way. Sure, I enjoy the new sights and sounds of a distance land. I like to experience the culture and get to know its people. But by the end of the first week, I’m ready to go home. When I served on a humanitarian aid trip to Bosnia, I actually took out pictures of my wife and kids every night before I went to bed. I studied them, I remembered, and I smiled. I couldn’t wait to see them again. After five days, I was homesick, but there were still seven days left of service. Those seven days were really productive days. We delivered medical supplies to a hospital, mattresses to widows in a village, and basic food supplies to refugees. Our team didn’t procrastinate on any of these tasks. I didn’t once think I’ll do this next week, because the next week I was going home. Heaven isn’t the far country—you’re living in the far country. When you mistakenly call it home, you’ll procrastinate on what should be done today. But when you set your eyes on heaven, you’ll see today clearly, because you’re hoping that tomorrow you’ll be home.

Taken from: Taking Back Time: biblical strategies for overcoming procrastination, p.37-38.

Available from biblicalstrategies.com

 

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Heaven is the real world…

I fell in love with another Bible verse recently. Probably because it awakened me to a subtle error I had been participating in. The book of Colossians tells us to “Seek those which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3:2-3).

The Spirit of God used that verse to remind me again that this is not my real home – heaven is. That’s why my heart ought to be there. It’s also why my thoughts should be there too!

I read something by Pastor Eugene Peterson recently where he told the story of preaching on a Sunday morning, following the sermon a high-energy executive came up to him and said, “This was wonderful pastor, but now we have to get back to the real world, don’t we?” Peterson writes,

I bristled. I had thought we were in the most-real world, the world revealed as God’s, a world believed to be invaded by God’s grace and turning on the pivot of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

What I’m growing to appreciate is that heaven is the real world. It’s the one that lasts. That’s why the Bible refers to it as eternal. In heaven there is “fullness of joy” because Jesus Christ is there. (Psalm 16:11).

Answer this simple question: Have you ever wanted something so badly that it held your mind’s attention? It captivated your heart’s desires? Eventually you got it only for it to break? It now lies at the bottom of a landfill somewhere in South Jersey? How is it that our culture has convinced us that that kind of thing is real, and a heaven that lasts and is filled with joy is not?

That’s why I’ve spent my week thinking on things that are above. Thinking about Jesus. Who He is, and what He has done for our world (John 3:16-17). I guess I just don’t want my desires or my thoughts to be consumed anymore with the stuff that doesn’t last. You’ll never find heaven in a landfill, but you’ll find a lot of your personal possessions there.