Is what you see, hear, smell, feel, and touch the totality of your existence? Lord, I hope not. The sound of a baby crying in the distance… the smell of comfort food drifting through the home that you grew up in… the feeling of comfort that comes from a dear friend hugging you during a time of great loss – these are powerful realities. These are distant memories and future encounters. They are very real and leave an imprint upon our souls, so to speak.
Yet, these things are fleeting. They are only here for a moment and then they fade away. Such is life on this side of the grave. Scripture tell us in James 4:14 that life is like “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Even we who are believers tend to focus most of our attention on the here and now. I suppose that is the human side of us attempting to deal with whatever reality confronts us – today. The last few weeks, I have looked again at the finality of this present life. As I watched my big brother grow weaker and weaker and ultimately pass on into the next life, I was forced to think of eternity. I am a believer, saved by the grace of Jesus. I am confident of that fact, but as a man bound in human flesh, I hurt and grow just like unbelievers do. The only difference, and it is a big one, is that I have confidence in where I will go when my eyes close in death. Consider this verse:
When you first read this verse, you might scratch your head a little and wonder why Paul would say such a thing. Surely having Jesus in your life “right now” should bring you peace and joy and love – right? Don’t we preach about how wonderful life will be after you get saved? Well, in one sense, this is a profound truth. When you accept Jesus as your Savior and honestly commit your life to Him, you do gain the peace and presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. You are sealed spiritually for eternity. However, you are still trapped in an earthly vessel made of corrupt flesh. So, what was Paul talking about here?
Ultimately, he was telling us (through the Corinthians) that all of our earthly troubles and sorrows are nothing, when we compare them to the glories that are waiting for us in heaven. Now, to put this in context, Paul was trying to help the Corinthians understand the afterlife and second coming of the Lord. They had division among themselves about “the resurrection of the dead.” As we often do, some of them had a hard time thinking about it in spiritual terms. I suggest that they also struggled with the realities connected to the consequences of their open confession of Christianity. Paul certainly could address these realities. He was horribly mistreated for his confession of belief in Jesus. In the end, it cost him his life – the earthly one, that is. Yet, he knew that his ultimate hope was not in the brief existence of life on the earth. Heaven was waiting for him and he knew that it would be worth whatever path the Lord placed before him. That path ended at the hands of an executioner’s sword.
So, the troubles we encounter in this present life are nothing compared to the splendors we will enjoy in heaven. we will have an eternity to bask in the love of our Lord Jesus. Peace beyond all words is waiting. Reunions with loved ones and the saints of old, answers to all the hard questions, and sinless perfection are waiting for us there! So, the only pressing question is – are you ready? Have you made that honest commitment to Jesus? If you have not, talk to me about it sometime. Do it soon. Do not wait. Now is the time… today is the day. Amen.