Living FOR eternity? Yes, we’ve heard of that. It surely goes without saying that a Christian should live for eternity. But the truth is, we’re already living IN eternity, recognize it or not.
If you’re 90, you may fear you don’t have much time left. If you’re 20, you tend to believe you have a lifetime ahead to accomplish your dreams.
Yet for all of us, no matter our age, no matter how many days we may still have to count down, time is more like a small drop in the bucket of eternity than a flowing river. We exist now in a finite part of the infinite ocean of eternity. We live inside the borders of time, but a great wide universe lies outside the frontier we can see.
“God has set Eternity in our heart, and man’s infinite capacity cannot be filled or satisfied with the things of time and sense.” –F. B. Meyer
Living in eternity, we can see the nations of the world from God’s perspective, as a drop from a bucket or dust on a set of scales (Is. 40:15). While that might cause us to feel insignificant in a meaningless world, I call it the long view from the high tower.
1. Take the High View
In my city of Coquimbo, Chile, the Cross of the Third Millennium dominates the skyline. This monument is an observation tower with a Catholic museum housed in its base. I often remind my friends here to take the view from the cross.
“Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset; eternity to the wicked is a night that has no sunrise.” –Thomas Watson
From the windows of the crossbeam hall, you can see for miles. North to La Serena, south to Totoralillo (where I live), and west out to the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. High up in the tower, big becomes little. We are lifted into the clear air above the clouds. The atmosphere is clean, and the scenery is magnificent.
The view living in eternity resembles that. From eternity, as from the cross, our often-short-sighted vision improves. We can see far and wide, we trust God with past, present, and future…so we don’t live in fear. And since He sees everything, we don’t waste energy on hating our enemies or pursuing the trivial.
2. Take the Long View
The Greek language utilizes two words for “time.” One is chronos. Chronos has to do with clock or calendar time, a human construct. This is the time that we manage, save, lose, keep, or track. We “number our days” (Ps. 90:12) in chronos time because it’s measured and limited.
Nothing wrong with chronos lived with a view toward eternity. We should live every day to the fullest and make each one count. Carpe diem, seize the day.
But we could also “redeem” the time—that is, buy or capture it back by “making the best use of it” (Eph. 5:15, ESV). This is kairos time.
Kairos lies closer to God’s time frame, living in eternity. This is the perfect time, the opportune time, the just-right moment. At God’s appointed time, supernatural synchronicities happen. We may call it serendipity; God calls it: “When the fullness of time had come…” (Gal. 4:4) or “For such a time as this…” (Est. 4:14).
But we don’t need to hurry frantically when we’re living in eternity. After all, we have time for everything God wants us to do in His “unforced rhythms of grace” (Mt. 11:29, MSG).
Droplet Gift #45: Instead of counting down my final days before the end of life, why don’t I start counting up to 10,000 years and beyond right now?
3. Take the Road Home
Last year I taught three wonderful Hebrew names of God that it does me good to review frequently:
- El Olam – Eternal God
- El Elyon – God Most High
- El Shaddai – God All-Sufficient
God forbid that we should lose our focus on what life in time’s all about. Living in eternity means living in God’s kingdom NOW, breathing the rarefied air in the realm of the eternal God. High and lifted up, He is more than enough to fill the emptiness in every heart and every place in the universe.
Sometimes people in Chile say to me, “You’re not from here.” No, I’m not. While it’s tempting to desire to fit in instead of stand out, you and I need to remember where we belong (and it’s not here). We don’t live just in time.
Our transformed, “alternate reality” opens up vistas of another world. It’s not about my country anymore, or any country, for that matter. As the people of God, we truly are just passing through this earthly bubble of time on our way to God’s country. We live as foreigners and pilgrims on the planet, refugees if you will. Yes, you could say we landed here as temporary residents on an 80-year visa, but we won’t stay forever.
Or it’s like the “In Transit” stamps I used to get in my passport on layovers at rinky-dink airports. Living in eternity means walking in transit through the concourse of time.
Thank God I am headed home soon! Home where my loved ones reside, where they speak my language, where I relax in security and rejoice in the blessings I don’t enjoy now. Meanwhile, I’ll keep living in eternity while I complete my mission in time.
4. Take Away Fear
Of course, within the high tower of the Embassy of the Kingdom of God, we suffer no lack of any good thing. No shortages, no regrets, no fears. The Eternal King is available to meet with us, accessible to all. And He continues to work out everything “according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9, NASB).
I’m surrounded by anxiety on every side. Have I ever known so many people in counseling? It’s true that organized crime increased by 26% last year in Chile. Six months ago the peso went wacko until the government dumped dollars on the market to stabilize the exchange. Just this week a widespread outbreak of seasonal influenza has prompted a partial return to pandemic restrictions.
“He who lays up treasures in heaven looks forward to eternity; he’s moving daily toward his treasures. To him, death is gain. He who spends his life moving toward his treasures has reason to rejoice. Are you despairing or rejoicing?” –Randy Alcorn
Political and ethnic divisions, monster viruses, the threat of economic collapse, and the gnawing pest of poverty—all haunt many of my friends. The vague specter of dread fuels stress, panic, even anguish.
Instead, though I’m exiled in this time, I’m living in eternity. Plagued by doubt, battered by failures and frustrations, I lean into Jesus, because “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Dt. 33:27). “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” (Ps. 23:4, NASB).
5. Take Your Time
“Time is given us to use in view of eternity.” –Harry Ironside
What should we do during the hard times of exile, when eternity seems a million miles and a thousand years away? (Though it’s not!) The prophet Jeremiah gave his exiled people some solid advice from God: “Build houses and live in them… plant gardens and eat… (marry and) bear sons and daughters… seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…and pray to the Lord on its behalf… and do not listen to the (deceivers)…” (Jer. 29:5-8).
So essentially, living in and for eternity involves a simple, ordinary life. We work in our homes and yards, we have families, we seek the good of our neighbors, and we pray for them.
And then the exile’s over. One minute I might see a missile coming my way (as in Joel C. Rosenberg’s Christian thriller, Dead Heat, which I read last year) and the next I see…Jesus. Or I could be doing something as prosaic as cooking dinner or watering my plants, and time ends. Just like that—Eternity.
Did you notice Jeremiah’s warning about delusional visions vying for the people’s attention in his day? (v. 8-9) Could anything sound more contemporary?
“All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” –C. S. Lewis
6. Take a Lesson
In Daily Thoughts, Allen Arnold mentioned several graduation speeches he’s heard recently. The gist of them: “Accept everything and believe in nothing. Forget the past and reject reality while forging a future in our ever-changing image.”
“I can’t imagine worse advice,” Arnold adds, and I couldn’t agree more. No wonder people are depressed.
“Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it.” –Gary Keller, The One Thing
How about weighing (but NOT necessarily accepting) everything you hear, and believing in something and Someone that will last forever? What if we learn from the past in order to look forward to the future with joyful anticipation, living in eternity here and now?
I share more of these thoughts in Return to Chiloé: Treasures from the Island, my recently published travel memoir/devotional describing “a life-changing trek from memories of the past to hope for the future.” (I’m sorry to say my paperbacks have gone up [mainly because of Amazon costs, not my decision], but the ebooks’ price remains the same.)
Lord, don’t take me home…until the kairos time is right. I’m already living in eternity, your time zone, your everlasting Kingdom. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.