Note from Rebecca Ribnick
I’m on a layover at the start of a much anticipated European vacation. My view of the Atlanta skyline is broken every sixty seconds or so by a steady stream of departing Delta flights. In a couple of hours, I will be on one of those planes headed to meet up with some dear friends from ministry school.
It’s amazing how a future event can shape our lives. As my departure countdown dwindled from months to weeks and then to days, this highly anticipated trip filled my thoughts, altered my actions, and affected my emotions. Laundry took on fresh importance, outfits were picked entirely from the “not in Europe” pile, and the more mundane parts of life were easily endured as I daydreamed of costal vistas, Iberian cheese, and conversations with heart friends. Future anticipation entirely shifted my life.
As believers we have a far bigger “trip” we are preparing for: our eventual move from this life to the next.
In the same way anticipation for my trip changed my routine and thought life, preparation for our eternal life with Christ is to shape our lives. This is called living with the end in mind; it’s having an eternal perspective.
An eternal perspective reminds us of our big “yes” to Jesus that helps us with the discipline of all of the little “no’s” required along the way. As I prepared for my trip, I easily decided not to wear a certain shirt because I wanted it to be clean in a few days to wear in Spain.
Applying this to our Christian walk, the “no” may be significantly larger and the time frame greatly expanded, but the idea is the same: the sin of this life (and I mean both the big moral issues and the “acceptable” sins like worrying) and the discipline required to keep growing, learning and discovering in our walk with Christ is far easier when we envision the great reward waiting for us.
Paul compares this intentional living with an athlete training for a race.
He wrote, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training… Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26).
An eternal perspective keeps us from living aimlessly and is essential to walking the straight and narrow path.
Likewise, an eternal perspective helps us run our race with endurance. In fact, it’s this perspective that allowed Jesus to endure the cross (see Hebrews 12:2). It’s how Paul (a man familiar with troubles and sorrow) could write, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18).
If our lives are just about this moment, this year, or even this decade, we would be tempted to change course. But the reality is, that’s far, far from the case. Our difficulties, the pain of discipline, or the troubles of life are nothing compared to our heavenly reward.
Finally, an eternal perspective allows us to align with heaven’s timeline. Sometimes I feel frustrated by God’s seemingly slow response to my prayers. Yet God promises time and again that He does hear them, that He cares about me, that His thoughts toward me are good, and that I cannot outrun His reach—His goodness is chasing me down!
When I zoom out from the day-to-day, and even year-to-year experiences, I begin to see a far greater story that God is crafting. What felt like the end of a chapter is more like the end of a paragraph.
In the same way I’m both physically present in Atlanta and anticipating my European arrival tomorrow morning, I’m very aware that this stay is temporary and the discomfort will be well worth it.
Our lives are really just a layover compared to eternity. Let us ask God for today’s assignment and receive the necessary grace to walk that out while also receiving the grace to live with eternity ever before us.
May the Spirit of Wisdom Himself drench you with His grace to live with eternity ever before you.