A Vision of Eternity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, May 10, 2012 0 comments

You might be familiar with the phrase "from here to eternity". It's fairly popular around weddings and was even a popular country music love song for a very short time a decade or so ago. The problem with the phrase is that it literally makes no sense. The only correct way of saying it would be "from here TO THE REST OF eternity". Obviously, that doesn't sound quite as catchy or romantic, and certainly would not fit into the harmony of that song (which I'm quite sure I'm the only one here who has ever heard before). But if we really want to understand what is meant by the word "eternity", we can't just look into the future. That's a common mistake that many people make, and we miss out on what God wants to do with the past because we're so focused on the future.

As Katie indicated in Monday's blog where she talked about the meaning of the word, eternity means not just "always will be", but also "always was". When we or those we are talking to are struggling to overcome things from the past, the common advice is something like "the past is the past, so just let it go". But we all know that is much easier said than done. It is very hard to just simply let something go. As Christians, we ought to be more apt to visiting our past sins and those committed against us and allowing God to walk us through a process of healing. This is especially true given our accurate understanding of the Word of the Week. If we truly believe God is eternal, that means that words such as "past, present, and future" are not in His vocabulary. God is not bound to the constructs of time as we are. He simply sees all of eternity in one really big picture. So what does that mean for us? It means that if you're willing, you can let God take you back to those specific times, events, or situations of pain in your life. You can ask Him what He wants to say to you in those moments, as if He were saying it RIGHT NOW. It might not feel like "right now" for you. But again, if God is eternal, then that moment truly IS "right now" for Him, and so is whatever is going to happen 1,000 years from now in our construct of time. I recently had a trusted counselor talk to me about this very truth, and then proceed to take me back to some moments of pain in my life and visualize them as if they were happening right then and there. He then had me pray and ask God what He would have me know and what He would say to me about that situation, and then share what I was hearing from God. That exercise brought healing to me and I know it can do the same for you.

The other thing I think about when talking about the word "eternity" has to do with something I was reminded about literally as I was sitting down to write this. How cool is God that He gives us reminders right when we need them! I have the TV on ESPN in the background and the show that was on is called "Pardon the Interruption". It's a sports talk show and they happened to be interviewing Josh Hamilton, an outfielder for the Texas Rangers who had hit 4 home runs in one game the previous night. Hamilton's past has been well-documented. He was blessed with unbelievable talent, but he wasted it all initially by falling into a world of drugs, alcohol, women, etc. At the lowest point in his life, he walked into a relationship with Jesus Christ and God began to restore him. Today, he is one of the best players in baseball and gives Christ all the glory. However, he has had several relapses and, although he recognizes God's grace and the need to constantly draw closer to Him, he is constantly heckled by fans about his personal demons. The hosts of the show asked him how he deals with it, and Hamilton began to talk about how it's frustrating, but that the Holy Spirit reminded him that what he's going through in that moment is just a very minute fraction of what Christ went through for him. He stated that now, he just prays for those who heckle him and shows compassion on them. Even as he has battled personal demons as he grows in his relationship with Christ, Josh Hamilton has learned to be more focused on the eternal state of those around him than on the light and momentary trouble that their actions cause him. What a testimony to the attitude all Christians should have!

It reminds me of the very first recorded Christian martyr in the Bible. I'm talking about Stephen. At the end of Acts 7, just as he was getting ready to be killed, we read that "Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (v. 55). A few verses later, we read about his very last words AS THEY WERE STONING HIM. He said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (v. 60). So let's get this straight. Stephen, in the very moment that he was suffering intense pain from being hit in the head with very large stones and on his way to physical death, had a very NON-PHYSICAL perspective. He never lost sight of the fact that this life and the pain that goes with it is fleeting, while eternity is forever. He couldn't bear the thought that other men could face the rest of eternity apart from Jesus (which would be the penalty if God did indeed "hold the sin against them") just because their sins led to the end of his measily life. He wanted those men to enjoy the eternal joy that he had so much that he prayed for it with his dying words. Wow! Talk about an eternal perspective. When I read the story of Stephen, I am reminded of just how temporal my attitude often is and how much power I give to non-eternal things in my life. I challenge you to join me in praying that God would guide all of us into an eternal perspective and remove anything from our lives that stands in the way of such a focus.

• Ask God to give you the strength to forgive those who persecute you.
• Ask God to give you the strength to forgive yourself if you need to.
• Ask God to heal not only you but to heal your enemy.