What About Eternity?

Have you ever considered eternity? Have you tried to wrap your mind around how much time that is? The length of your lifetime is nothing compared to eternity. A minuscule speck. Smaller than the size of the period at the end of this sentence in comparison to the whole page. Or a whole book. Or all the books in the world. Eternity never stops. It’s impossible to wrap your head around.
 
Eternity is so incomprehensible, in fact, that sometimes we neglect to think about it at all.
 
Think about how little we consider eternity, even on those long, clear drives when we have some free time on our hands. How much less do we think about it when there’s something right here, right now pleading for our brain space.
 
When I have a headache, my mind isn’t on eternity. My mind is in my head, trying to figure out how to ease the pain. And if the headache is bad enoughmaybe a migrainemy mind isn’t even on what’s happening in the room around me. I’m completely caught up in eradicating the pain, and everything outside of my head is defined by its relationship to the headache. “The lights are too bright, the music  is too loud, and the twins are too rambunctious! Someone take the kids! I have to get rid of this headache!” 
 
The same hyper-focus can also happen on a large scale, as many feel the ache of a national or global tragedy. When the “headache” gets too severe, our minds throb with pain and all other thoughts become secondary to suppressing or removing it. My mom couldn’t think when the Twin Towers were hit. I couldn’t think when George Floyd died.
 
This is when it’s most important to consider eternity. 
 
This week during Bible study I came across an eye-opening albeit challenging text about eternity in John 18 when Jesus has just been turned over to Pontious Pilate for questioning. By the time he stands before Pilate, he has already been bound, betrayed and denied by his disciples, slapped, spat on, and mocked by the Jewish officials—all while anticipating the suffering still to come. Yet when he is brought in front of a man he already knows will hand him over to unrighteous judgment, his mind is on eternity:
 
“Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.’” (John 18:36 NIV)
 
Here is Jesus, the ultimate recipient of not only personal injustice but also the comprehensive sins of the world, and he is focused on eternity. What a challenging lead to follow! To walk through undeserved hatred and abuse yet to hold to his calling so firmly that it couldn’t overwhelm his mind. What focus!
 
This is where vision meets purpose. 
 
There is plenty of work to do on earth, and preparation can’t be done by simply daydreaming of life in heaven, so let’s talk about “the other hand.” 
 
If I spend every moment of my life on earth focused only on eternity, I will be useless to others. I won’t be able to support my friends, I won’t be able to lead my team, my husband won’t have a helper, and my kids won’t have any of my attention. “Mom, I have a headache!” “Sorry, son, busy thinking about heaven.” What a wasted life on earth! 
 
So instead we need to balance the two—vision (heaven) and purpose (earth)—as Christ did. Our ultimate vision is heaven, and our purpose is to bring people there, to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). It’s not enough to think about eternity if we haven’t made our lives’ work about it.
 
Right now my question is, how do we lead people if we can’t see them? How can we help if we don’t know what they need or aren’t willing to listen? There’s often a barrier between eternal vision and earthly purpose, and it’s not heaven, and it’s not other people. It’s a wall of personal offense, and it stops us from seeing both simultaneously. Philippians 2:3-8 gives some insight to overcoming this blind spot:
 
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
 
Right here is the bridge between heaven-focus and people-focus: humility, modeled in Christ. Through humility, he was able to cast his own “headaches” aside to focus both on eternity and the value of the people he came to save.
 
We spend so much time—particularly in the recent heat of national suffering—caught up in offense, anxiety, and division to the point that we forget: this life is not the point. Eternity is the point. But this life is a tool… an opportunity… to prepare ourselves and others for eternity. Not to be the loudest voice in an argument but to demonstrate the most compassion. To zealously care for others. To support fellow believers through sincere fellowship when they are hurting. To win wars through prayer and worship. To draw people in through humility and genuine love. To show what Christ was like not by just talking about him but by being like him. Christ was eternity-focused. Kingdom-focused. People-focused. He was obedient to God’s call for him on earth while looking to God’s future for him in heaven.
 

If you are spending your brain space caged in anger about what is happening now or anxiety about what happens next, remember the Kingdom. If you are finding yourself unaware or closed off to the struggling lives around you, remember how we prepare ourselves and others for the Kingdom. And if you get lost and don’t know where to start, look to Jesus’ example, the bridge between people and heaven as he walked out his purpose on earth, ever-focused on eternity: “and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 2:2).

 

Before I leave this blog, I want to give you a foundation to prepare for eternity by living each day fulfilling your purpose. Again, it’s not enough to think about eternity if we haven’t made our lives’ work about it! This is how we lead others into God’s Kingdom:

    • Scripture: Read up on God’s purpose for you. Christ stood firmly in his God-given purpose on earth—the outcome of eyes fixed on God’s Kingdom. We need to do the same. But how did Jesus gain such a sound grasp of his purpose? Scripture and prayer! What has God asked you to do here on earth to lead others to His Kingdom? 
      • “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9
      • “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
      • “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” – Luke 4:18-19. Here, Jesus was reading from Isaiah’s prophecy about his purpose on earth, which we now carry out in our own lives as a reflection of him.
      • “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Luke 6:27-28
      • “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.” – Philippians 1:27
  • Prayer: Ask God fervently for direction to move.
    • “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3
    • “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” – 1 John 5:14-15
  • Action: Humbly and deeply reflect on where you stand in your faith and then do something about it. Does your vision match your purpose, or does your faith lack action? What can you improve on here on earth to more accurately represent the Kingdom?
    • “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22. Really, verses 19-27 are so ripe for this time… I encourage you to read the whole chapter!
    • “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18
    • “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:15-17
    • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27
  • Consider your legacy. One day you will be moving fully into eternity, and only your legacy will remain on earth. Have conversations (even the hard ones) with your family to ensure that those in your home are serving the Almighty. Train your children by example to follow godly footsteps.
    • “. . . as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15 
    • “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
 
In Love, 
Catherine Lexvold