Life in this world so easily takes our eyes off the prize that awaits us in eternity. It’s so easy to become focused on our daily routines and our attempts to get ahead in this world, that we forget about our true and enduring hope.
A quick glance of the news headlines reveals many and varied views of hope. ISIS is attempting to bring about their version of the Muslim Caliphate while Iran hopes to spread their hope of the Caliphate throughout the world. People demonstrate everywhere an attempt to further their agenda of what they believe will bring hope to their lives and those around them.
The unifying theme of all that we see from a variety of religious and political vantage points is an attempt to bring about a utopia in this world with no thought of God or of eternity.
Before we blame everyone else for this mindset, let’s take a few minutes to think about how we all do this. It’s so easy to become totally absorbed with this life, preparing for our futures and retirement that we give very little thought to eternity, Jesus’ soon appearing, and to laying up treasures in heaven as Jesus taught us to do in Matthew 6:19-21.
If this life is anything, it is exceedingly temporary.
It’s certainly not wrong to prepare for retirement. But so often we forget that our retirement years are (or will be) but a vapor that we see on a cold day as we exhale. Just as it soon vanishes, so our lives here will quickly come to an end. If this life is anything, it is exceedingly temporary.
This is why I like to watch the sunrise in the morning; it reminds me that a new and glorious day is coming in which Jesus will reign over all of the world.
Preparing for our Eternal Paradise
Because of my tendency to put far too much hope in this life, the words of Paul David Tripp in his March 11 devotional spoke to my heart as I read them again this past Saturday. Even though I am writing a book on our hope, I still need to be reminded of the futility of living for this moment in time rather than for eternity.
I liked his contrast of outcomes: “Here’s the real-life, street-level issue: if you don’t keep the eyes of your heart focused on the paradise that is to come, you will try to turn this poor fallen world into the paradise it will never be.”[i]
Many world leaders have sought to establish their own version of a paradise in this life. Many people seek to do the same thing with their private kingdoms. Often, I find this same desire in my heart.
But just like a two year old boy demolishing a tower of blocks, events along with the passing of time have a way of annihilating all earthly hopes that are built solely on the shifting sands of this life without regard for Jesus or for eternity.
Signs that Point to Eternity
Tripp went on to point out how we all have a longing for eternity, for a lasting paradise, because it was put there by our creator. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity into each of our hearts.
Somehow, deep down, we all know there has to more than the world we see around us.
Somehow, deep down, we all know there has to be more than the world we see around us. “Our cries are more than cries of pain; they are also cries of longing for more and better than we will ever experience in this fallen world . . . All the things that disappoint you now are to remind you that this is not all there is and to cause you to long for the paradise that is to come.”[ii]
We all experience disappointment in this life. At times we all see our hopes dashed and come crashing down like a poorly constructed tower of blocks. In a way this is a good thing if it causes us to remember that our ultimate hope is not in this life. Our hope does not reside in the kingdoms we attempt to build for ourselves, but in our Savior’s eternal kingdom to which we as His followers already belong.
Tripp’s last bit of advice in his devotional for March 11 was this, “Live in hope because paradise is surely coming, and stop asking this fallen world to be the paradise it will never be.”[iii]
The trouble comes when we put all of our hopes in this life with no thought of eternity or of laying up treasure in heaven.
This life will end and so will all of our efforts to make this life a paradise. Those of us who know the Lord as their Savior will then begin experiencing the true and lasting outcome of our hope, eternal life where we will forever share in the all joys Jesus has in store for us.
Does that not sound far better than anything we can gain during our short temporary lives on earth?
It does to me; the challenge is to keep this vision before my eyes amidst all the ups and downs of this life.
[i] Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies – A daily Gospel Devotional (Wheaton: Crossway 2014), March 11