“Think of eternity and live backwards from that.”
– Ann Voskamp
The way many believers think and talk about eternal life is as though it’s something that begins when we die. Yet, even by definition, eternity isn’t something that is bound by time. It doesn’t start or stop at a certain time. It exists beyond the limitation of time.
Eternal life is in its very essence a seamless existence that isn’t disrupted by time, only distributed and spread out in time. By God’s design, we experience it in the context of time and season. But make no mistake, time doesn’t govern eternity. If anything, its eternity that makes demands of time.
Many of us are more acquainted with our physical being that we can tangibly sense than we are with our spiritual being. Perhaps that’s why we struggle with the concept of eternal life.
What then does eternal life look like while we’re still alive on earth?
For me, it starts with the realization that I’m still around for a reason and God had no plans of transfiguring me into the after-life the moment after I got saved. So deep is God’s intentionality that Jesus made mention of it in His last prayer on earth before His ascension.
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
John 17:14-19 ESV
We’re not just living to die. The same way the Father sent the Son to earth to bring about reconciliation between God and man so Jesus sends us out into the world to multiply the work that He began.
Creation is groaning as it waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. But we’re not going to make much of a difference if we think our time on earth is best served mark timing and dodging the devil’s bullets until we can get to heaven and live the good life.
This is why it’s so fundamental for us as believers to be aware of our purpose on earth. Not as the world defines it. But as our Father created us to become. It’s not much of a victory if we live up to the world’s standards but completely miss out on our Father’s grand dreams for us.
There are significant aspects of consecration and sanctification that also happen on this side of eternity. I’ve come to appreciate the way in which different situations bring out the best, the worst and everything in between about me.
The things I go through on earth teach me who I am.
The things I go through on earth teach me who God is.
The things I go through on earth make me a better believer.
The things I go through on earth add layers and dimensions to my relationship with God. They’re my personal history with Him. Can God call you friend?
Eternal life does the impossible. It allows me to experience the best of both worlds – spiritual and natural – at the same time. I’m not bound by my physical limitations – time included. I can transcend them with the same ease that mustard seed faith moves mountains.
I’m not waiting till I’m 6 feet under to enjoy the goodness of God. I want to experience it as fully as can possibly happen in the land of the living. It’s a decree I make over my life again and again then go out into the world and live as one who fully believes it.
I refuse to live survive just to die.
My years on earth are not less important, less holy, less magnificent than my years after my death. These decades spent working out my salvation are priceless. His precious nearness in my every day, even in the mundane, reminds me that it all counts for something. All of it.
So this is my challenge to you, saved Christian. What difference are you making with the years you have on this earth? Do you know the dreams your Father had for you even before your time on earth began? Are you living like the son, like the daughter, of the King of the universe?