I’ve always had a bit of push back within me toward the idea of “pondering Heaven.” It seemed to me that I had too much work to do here to allow myself to become “so eternally focused to be any earthly good.” Despite the fact that the idea of sitting on a hillside and awaiting the return of Christ has always seemed like lunacy to me, I’ve recently come to embrace the odd moment or two sitting quietly and looking forward to the time when this world is no more and I am at home with God.
The story of how I got from the one place to the other is a long one and the topic for some other time, perhaps. Suffice it to say that as my understanding of the Gospel has broadened, I see the whole picture of God’s redemption more clearly. Included in that, of course, is the picture of ultimate redemption pointed to throughout Scripture in such images as the Garden of Eden as that which was lost, yet to be redeemed; hope for dry land from within the Ark; the land flowing with milk and honey, as promised to those delivered from slavery; Jesus’ promise that He goes to prepare a place for us; Paul’s assurance that we will see face to face what we now see dimly, as if through a clouded glass; Peter’s urging that we should walk as temporary residents of this world; and God speaking to John in the Revelation (chapter 21) the most clear picture that we will dwell with Him and He with us and all the pains of this world will be, finally, washed away.
This is just a small list of the many references to eternity throughout Scripture. If the Gospel is so full of this thought, it must benefit us to dwell on ultimate redemption once in a while.
Here are four benefits I’ve found to doing so:
1. It lends perspective. When faced with difficulties, we often blow them out of proportion. It’s a first world habit I’m prone to indulge and, if you are reading this on your internet capable home or office computer, or even smart phone… you are too. No matter what our problems though, Eternity face to face with Christ causes all of them fade in importance. Even martyrs throughout the ages testified in their death that the ultimate redemption was enough to see them through. (This requires that you are prone to find your satisfaction in Christ, of course.)
2. Perspective calms me. Frazzled by a hectic world, recognition that my citizenship is in Heaven helps me to care less about the things that I can not control and are of (come on and let’s be honest, now) lesser importance. They mean less and I worry less.
3. It strengthens my resolve. I am in this world, however, with all of its trials. Big and small, I face them all… but with the knowledge that I have a task to do, and that task has a time limit. I am not free to wait for eternity ignoring all that will spend their eternity apart from the God that promises me such fulfillment.
4. It grants me peace. I know that the God that has authored the narrative of history is not leaving loose ends. If I can trust Him with my eternity, I can certainly trust Him with my temporality. Is that a word? It is now. Just coined it.