If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth… seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:1–2, 9–10)
Those of you in the Northeast might be familiar with the radio ministry of Wayne Monbleau (Loving Grace Ministries); perhaps not. In any case, he ministered heavily to my wife and me twenty-plus years ago, and he’s still going. He’s also written his share of worship songs, and one in particular sticks with me—the epic acoustic hootenanny “Let Heaven Fill Your Thoughts.” Seriously, it’s an eight-minute song that gets more rollicking as it goes along, as it depicts the “family reunion” that awaits us in heaven. But it’s the lines that close out the minor-keyed introduction that still resonate with me:
Let heaven fill up all of your thoughts; keep your mind upon the Lord
Your life right now will seem so small when you think what you will behold
When you’re a thousand—years—old
When you’re a million—years—old
When you’re ten million—years—old.
Obviously it’s a great way of gaining perspective on our lives right now. But I’m beginning to view it even more in terms of what awaits us. An eternity with Jesus awaits us. As we begin to gain a broader and deeper perspective on that, we don’t have to consciously adjust our vision to make our lives “seem so small”—they are that small.
And yet our small lives are seeds that contain this far greater eternal life. By reaching for what lies beyond this life—and bringing it to those around us—we begin to sprout and grow into the life God has intended for us all along.
To be human is to die. Everything around us . . . ends. That’s why Christ had to become a man, and had to die a human death, in order to reach us and impart eternal life to us. He calls us to do the same. To follow Jesus is to follow him through death and into eternal life. If God allows, we will have the privilege of helping others walk that same ever-beginning path. Indeed, serving others now prepares us to serve God throughout eternity, and softens our hearts so that Jesus himself may continue to serve and guide us. Because that’s what’s in store for us:
Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. . . . For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:15–17)
When all is said and done, what will I have to show at the day of judgment? I watered some seeds, helped plant a few trees, and did a whole lot more not worth discussing. Millions, probably billions, will have more to show, and go on to greater rewards. And I should rejoice in that, because God’s work was accomplished. More importantly, I will rejoice that one day I will no longer be unknowingly in God’s presence, buried under my own sins and those of the world around me—or often at best, mentally acknowledging a presence I cannot quite feel. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Our natural “old” experience is life and death, and that experience extends to everything else in this life. The new resurrection life is life and life only. We are just passing through—
. . . not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13–16)
Gaining this perspective on our lives on earth changes everything, and frees us to become more like the Savior we profess to follow. Remember, we “know the way to where [Jesus] is going” (John 14:4). Eternal life starts now. So let’s get ready to walk it out. . . .
Lay It Down Today
Let’s begin practicing our ministry to God right now. For the next twenty-four hours, commit to praying every half-hour. If you need a reminder, set an alarm or create an Outlook event, and keep putting it to sleep. It doesn’t need to be a long or complex prayer—in fact, it could be a one-sentence prayer such as, “Lord, help me to desire what you desire, and to meet those needs in your strength.” Just pray faithfully and repeatedly throughout your day. See what God brings to your attention as a result—and ask him what he wants you to do about it.