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Are You Ready for Eternity

The following post appeared Saturday September 2, 2017 in the Cook County News-Herald:

It seems strange to me, this continuing life as usual when life has taken the turn to the unusual for so many. Thousands displaced by flooding in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, yet a local museum hosts a pie social to raise awareness of and funding for its existence. A family grieves the death of loved ones and faces the complexities of closing the chapters on their lives, and the county announces public information sessions for the 2018 budget process. A friend confronts a frightening medical diagnosis, yet Dairy Queen announces a new chocolate cake Blizzard. Facebook and internet news sites are plastered with pictures of hurricane devastation in the south (and the more rare pictures of fire devastation in the west) alongside kitty cats, irises, sunsets, and cute baby animals.

Shouldn’t the world stop and pay attention when crisis hits? Shouldn’t pain and sorrow and hurt and loss give us at least a moment’s pause? How can the people of this world keep doing all the good things they do even when things can, and do, sometimes, go so terribly wrong? How can we enjoy ourselves and our blessings when a mother dies lifting her three year old from a flood current threatening to sweep them both away?

How can life go on for us when it seems to end for others? I believe it is because of something God has hardwired into every human heart: eternity. God creates in each of us a sense of eternity, a sense that our existence has a place in an endless expanse of time, and that today will be followed by tomorrow, and after tomorrow another tomorrow, and if we die, even then there will be a tomorrow after that, both for others and for us.

God sets eternity in our hearts. You can find the assertion in the Bible, in the Old Testament, in Ecclesiastes chapter three verse eleven (Eccl. 3:11). This innate perception of eternity allows us to face momentary crises with hope, occasional setbacks with courage, great sorrow and struggle with even greater joy. This awareness of eternity, of our place in a timeline greater than ourselves, nurtures conviction and determination and recovery and resiliency. Eternity reminds us that this, whatever this is, is not all there is. Something more awaits us in the next moment, the next hour, the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year. You get the picture, I’m sure.

And while this sensibility of time and possibility assists us and supports our commitment to “life goes on,” it also poses a question, a built-in inquiry God makes of all those to whom He gives life and breath. If you know in your heart eternity is coming, are you prepared for it? Not just are you prepared for all the tomorrow’s of your life now, as many or as few as they may be, but are you prepared to enter that eternity, that timeless expanse where God dwells in all His unobstructed glory, upon your death?

People sometimes say about themselves and their lives, “It’s okay; I’m going to go to heaven when I die.” And I wonder, “Why? Why would you want to go to heaven?” Heaven is where God is and you’ve wanted nothing to do with Him your entire life. Why would you want to spend eternity with Him. Heaven is where people of faith live praising God in all His glory, and frankly, you’ve never willingly darkened the door of a church and have more praise for the Minnesota Vikings than for Almighty God. Why, O why would you want to go to heaven when it is everything you have dismissed and avoided here?” Given the way many people treat God now, heaven, for them, would really be hell.

Eternity set in the heart bids us consider our todays AND our tomorrows and prepare for them by discovering the reason for which God has created us and sustained our lives, letting “life go on” as long as it has for us. God has created you to know and love Him and enjoy Him forever. Eternity starts today. Are you ready?

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