Is Eternity an Eternity Away?
When was the last time you thought about your place in heaven?
For some of us, eternity might seem like an eternity away. For others, depending on our age or any current health complications, heaven might feel closer and more real.
Either way, for sinners living in a broken world with fickle hearts, getting an accurate perception of Forever will be difficult. In one way or another, today will appear big and significant, and the hereafter distant and ethereal.
It will be a constant struggle to look at our present life through the lens of eternity and not give it more weight than it actually has.
That’s why I love and need the reminding words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16–18:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV)
Notice that Paul does not deny the existence or minimize the importance of today. But he does so with proper perception in light of heaven. Compared to the eternal glory of living with God in a fully restored world, the troubles, tasks, pleasures, and celebrations of the here and now are light and momentary.
Psalm 73:20 characterizes this present life as “a dream when one awakes.” In the moment, a dream can seem more real than your actual life. But when you wake up, it disappears like steam. The dramatic moment of the dream can’t be compared to the many, many years that make up your real life.
Heaven tells us that our existence in the here and now will only be a minute part of our total existence. Since we will live forever, when we add our years in this broken world to the sum total of our existence, they will only make up a microscopic fraction of our lives.
Don’t allow your heart and mind to be dominated by the struggles and pleasures of today because Scripture reminds us that everything that makes up your physical existence in the here and now is passing away.
When you see things around you as permanent, they take on too much importance and increase your sense of loss when they are taken away. If you mistakenly think that this life is only about who has the most gigantic pile of possessions and pleasures in the here and now, then your priorities will become unbiblical. Simultaneously, the loss of those possessions and pleasures become all the more painful and seem all the more unfair.
If you are God’s child, today is not your final destination but a preparation for your final destination.
Sadly, many of us cause our own trouble with eternity amnesia. We forget who we are and what we have been given for today—and perhaps most importantly, what is promised tomorrow.
Don’t look at this moment as if it is all there is and all you have.
Heaven guarantees that all of this is temporary. Eternity tells every child of God that the bulk of our existence will be lived in a place of eternal peace, rest, and joy.
Eternity not only provides us with future hope but with living hope in the here and now.
Paul David Tripp
1. What in your life today is looming large and consuming your attention and energy?
2. In what ways is this matter biblically important? How does the gospel provide practical help and hope and not minimize its present significance?
3. Are you potentially giving this matter too much time and attention? Has it become proportionally bigger than what it should be in light of eternity?
4. How should the future guarantee of eternity alter the way you spend your time, pursue priorities, and organize your calendar? Be specific.
5. How should the future guarantee of eternity alter the way you interact with relationships? Be specific.