“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~ II Corinthians 4:16-18
No wonder we don’t look forward to heaven the way we should.
Here is why I think so…
I recently finished a lovely, well-written book. For several hundred pages, the characters struggled to overcome personal difficulty and, in some instances, were clawing their way through life just for survival. Obviously, it was going to be the kind of story with some level of personal triumph at the end (while reading chapter after chapter, you hope so). And just when the characters reached this point – BLAM – the story ended.
And I was left thinking, “What?! Couldn’t I at least enjoy the good times, since we had to work so hard to get here?”
And if you think about it, this is the case in a lot of stories. Even in fairy tales, there are challenges to overcome: being locked in a tower, sleeping for one hundred years, etc. And after all the trials and tragedies are over, and the characters are just finally where they should be, we’re left with the tagline, “And they all lived happily ever after.” And that’s IT. The story just ENDS.
(For the record, there is one novel in which I tolerate this kind of ending, and that is Gone With the Wind. It wouldn’t have worked any other way.)
Now, if you apply this kind of thinking to life on earth and the coming eternity, here is what you get: Life is full of struggles. There will be moments of great sorrow, disappointments, and successes. You will have to overcome a lot. And in the end, when we get to meet our Creator, then…
Close the book. That’s all you get. You just have to take it on faith that you’ll be living happily ever.
It kind of makes looking forward to eternity hard to do, because our focus is so fully on the struggles of our earthly story.
But that isn’t how we are designed to live – at all. In fact, God spends a lot of time talking about what heaven will be like. But we so often don’t spend nearly enough time dwelling on what He is teaching us.
Because heaven is going to be amazing. It’s why I love Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, so much. It’s exhaustively comprehensive, and that’s how it should be. He spent decades digging through the Bible, finding every verse he could on the topic of heaven. As a result, Alcorn put together five hundred pages that answer just about every question you could ever have about heaven, and he uses Scripture to do it. It’s incredible.
You may have heard the analogy that life on earth is a dot, which leads into the line of eternity. We have to quit focusing so much on the dot, and start focusing on the line. Our life on earth is short and our eternity with Christ is forever. The happily ever after part is the longest part of the story. Shouldn’t we live like it?