"We may ‘believe’ in eternity, but to what extent have we actually agreed with the world that eternity is not relevant until after this life? Eternity is not merely a time frame that is endless; it is profoundly and foremost a qualitative thing that is available now. When we begin to see all our moments set in the context of eternity, we will bring to those moments a seriousness that we would not otherwise have had." Art Katz
What will I do this year or even this next month? How will my family survive? How will I make ends meet?
As we enter into this New Year, these are questions that vast amounts of people are asking. Is there a way to live above all of these temporary trials and truly thrive amid the stress and the strain of end time living? If the whole world is groaning and the birth pangs before the Lord’s return are getting closer, what can we do in order to survive? Is there a way to live victoriously?
Perhaps what we need is an eternal perspective that changes everything–how we view life, how we view our trials, and how we live life in the ordinary.
The truth is that we are being prepared for eternity. God is building character within us that will last forever. He is most concerned about our character and motives. The unique trials that each of us face on earth are designed by an eternal God who sees and knows all. They are not a mistake or by chance. Of course, we ourselves make mistakes, but God can turn them all into good (Romans 8:28). He knows our advantages and our disadvantages–our family backgrounds, our marriages, our education, and everything about us, even to the minutest detail. He sees the good and bad circumstances that we face. We must realize that God sees everything in the eternal context, but we live in a world that wants everything now.
The world system is built on immediate gratification and living for present pleasures. But if we lose the meaning of eternity and fail to see life from an eternal perspective, we lose everything important from God’s point of view. To apprehend eternity in this life is not only to anticipate a future enjoyment, but it is to appropriate a present reality.
The apostle Paul lived in the powerful reality of the eternal. It was a joyful reality, and it made a difference in everything he did. He saw beyond the things that he suffered on earth. He was hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecute, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). His trials (shipwreck, stoning, persecution, prison, and so much more) were merely light and momentary afflictions. Why? Paul had an eternal perspective and saw an eternal weight of glory that would be his reward. An eternal perspective changes everything. He said:
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 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 4:16-18).
If we look at our life at this moment, how do we see our trials? Are they burdensome, depressing, overwhelming, worthless, and to be avoided at all cost? Or can we rise up higher and see the eternal realm? Everything depends on seeing the unseen and the eternal. Are we living as if we were a citizen of heaven or a citizen of earth? Are we bringing the eternal dimension into our daily tasks and the ordinary?
It is possible to live as if everything is charged with eternity. We as believers have the calling to bring eternity into time, of bringing the reality of heaven down to earth. God wants us to lay up our treasures in heaven and live in the joy of being rewarded for everything we do for Jesus’ sake. Even giving a cold glass of water will not lose its reward when we do it for Jesus.
If we live as the world lives by seeking to find fulfillment now, then how are we different than those who do not know Christ? We are living like mere men who have not tasted of heaven and are blinded by the alluring traps of the enemy. We are trying to make the emptiness of this life our home. The whole world lies in massive deception. Many of us keep rearranging the furniture in our earthly life (endless buying, multiple divorces, countless addictions) without ever finding true fulfillment and joy. It just can’t be found without Jesus.
The Bible says that we are strangers on earth and are looking for a city whose maker and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).
As we begin this New Year, it’s time to live up to our true heavenly calling. True joy is found only in living for heaven, where the glitter of this world has lost its glamour and power. An eternal perspective changes everything. There is an unbelievable purity and simplicity in knowing Christ that is far greater than anything this world offers. But we can so easily be led astray (2 Corinthians 11:3).
As believers we must understand this message about the eternal. The urgency around us screams for our attention. We can no longer say that what is coming on the world is just a bad dream. This is the hour where the Lord is asking us to rise up to our true calling. He wants us to shake off the lies and be all that He intended for us to be at this hour. He wants us to set our minds and hearts on things above. Only then can He truly use us to the fullest extent for His glory. With an eternal perspective:
- We can be truly joyful even when all around us is falling apart.
- We can rise up with a new perspective that will make the lost world take notice.
- Our life can burn with eternity and purpose.
This is an invitation for all of us to come into a new dimension of being. We need to evaluate all of our earthly activities from an eternal perspective. It’s time to live for heaven and narrow down our life to what will be eternally of value. Joy is found not in half-hearted commitment, but when we go all the way for God. I am evaluating everything I do. In light of the judgment seat of Christ at the end of the age, Mike Bickle has often said to our IHOPKC staff:
“Lord, shock me now! Show me what areas in my life that need change before that final day.”
Four years ago my life dramatically changed in an instant. Running to answer my doorbell to get a new computer for writing, I slipped on my top step and fell all the way down the stairs, landing at the bottom in a heap. My husband quickly drove me to the emergency, and I ended up in the hospital with a broken wrist and heel. I was in a wheelchair for months with a cast on my foot and leg, and one on my arm. From a human viewpoint, it made no sense at all. There were months of recovery where I couldn’t do a thing!
During that time I had a lot of time to think. I thought about life. I thought about what was important. I thought about eternity. Through this unfortunate circumstance God turned personal tragedy and loss into blessing and joy, because He gave me an eternal perspective that changed everything.
It’s time for us to change our perspective and seek that which is above. It’s time that we live in light of eternity.
Every time we pray and bless another, every time we don’t complain, every time we turn another cheek and stop our tongue from speaking evil, we are laying up our treasures in heaven and will be rewarded. God is conforming us to His image, and we will not be disappointed. Let’s see our eternal reward in every act of kindness and in every sacrifice we make, large or small. Everything on earth is preparation for the age to come. We have an eternal destiny. Let’s learn to live a joyful life in light of this reality.
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things 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. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:1-4).