Keeping Heaven in view can be extremely encouraging. But for me it wasn’t always this way.
I used to be terribly upset that I couldn’t go there immediately. “Why, God?” I would ask as my tears fell freely on my pillow. “Why must I stay in this fallen earth so long? How much longer will You put me through this?”
Sometimes the bad things that happened, the big things like death as well as the little every day pains, felt like too much. Hurtful words, headlines, sins, irritations, and agonies, they all added up.
I thought about death in ways I probably shouldn’t have. It was almost like I wanted to die.
Whenever someone would say something like “at least we’re still alive” grumpy thoughts went through my head. I was ungrateful for my life. I didn’t thank God for the breath in my lungs. I wanted the higher things that I didn’t have.
This was a few years ago. I don’t know whether it was a diagnosable depression or not. I don’t know whether I was really a Christian before or after, but one thing is clear. It was a bad spot to be in.
Thinking about the Heavens to which I couldn’t go now made me really sour about all the suffering on earth. Like Randy Alcorn’s quote, “For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to Hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to Heaven.”
Don’t get me wrong. It is good to think about the future life, but only if we don’t ignore the now.It is good to think about the future life, but only if we don’t ignore the now. Click To Tweet
Remember that God’s plan for you is not just where you are going.
It’s also what you do on the way there. We shouldn’t ignore the Bible’s instructions while we think about how wretched the earth is and beautiful heaven will be. Don’t make the mistake I did.
“And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” (Luke 9:23)
We have a mission to pursue on the way to our destination. What is this mission?
It sums up everything Jesus’ followers should want: to become more like Him.
Everything we are called to put on (e.g. self-denying love for all, compassion for the undeserving, forgiveness for sinners, etc.) while we put off the old self makes us more like our Savior. The Bible is His Word. He never once broke the Laws. And aren’t these Laws the same ones we should strive after?
Yes, we will always have sin in our lives until we arrive at the final destination, but we must hate that sin all the way there and never just accept it. We are on this earth for a reason. We are called to pursue Christ-likeness right where we are. And we have His help.We are called to pursue Christ-likeness right where we are. And we have His help. Click To Tweet
Be encouraged by the hope of eternity
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
As Christians, we will suffer. Indeed, we must. But it will all be worth it in the end and we will be paid for our service and faithfulness.
The joy we will see is not only a just payment for our good works, but a million times more than what we deserve. Look at the difference between what we will see and what our just punishment should have been! Isn’t the contrast mind-blowing?
Please never forget this: it is Jesus who paid it all. We owe Him an eternal debt of gratitude and we should want to spend the rest of our lives fighting to become more like Him.
Jesus will be our everything not only forever but also until we are restored. How valuable is His Word when we think this way? How seriously should we take His commandments everyday until the Final Destination?
One day we won’t need to fight sin because its influence will be completely wiped away. Yet we should fight sin, however painful it is to fight it, until that Day.
A healthy balance of the Now and the hope of Heaven is best.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
I have experienced first hand the discouragement of focusing only on the future without thinking about the Now. It was immensely depressing. Keeping the Now in mind without remembering Heaven is similar to that, though it’s the reverse.
You may be toiling to bear fruit and weeping over your sin that seems to ever reappear. You may be beginning to feel like it is in vain.
But you must remember that it’s not. God’s plan for you is so much more than suffering.God’s plan for you is so much more than suffering. Click To Tweet
One day you’ll know that better than ever. One day everything will be clear. Not a hint of confusion. Everything God asks you to do is absolutely worth it.
We also mustn’t get comfortable here—I think that’s what Randy Alcorn really meant. This is not our home. We must fight the worldly lies, we must stay awake and not let them sink into our hearts unaware.
As Jesus said concerning us, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).
I now know God put me here for a purpose and I am so grateful to Him that He has revealed the Truth and given me a growing understanding. I want to do His will.
Heaven will come in His timing. Now is the time for something else. A purpose.
He knows His plans for us. And those plans are so much greater than only a wait. They are beyond our imaginations.
Editor’s Note: this article was originally published on May 7th, 2019.