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Eternity matters because we are eternal beings (who just temporarily operate by the clock). Not surprisingly, eternity informed almost everything Jesus had to say about life on earth. Like us, those farmers and fishermen and housewives listening to Him by the lake were obsessed with now—with justice and healing and freedom now. But to help them understand their present, Jesus kept pointing them ahead to their future.
Blessed are you now, Jesus said, when you endure and seek to redeem evil of all kinds because then, in My kingdom, your life will be beautiful and never-ending. You can even leap for joy now, He said, “because great is your reward in heaven.”
Do you remember what it was like when you were struggling through college or high school, looking forward to graduation? You slogged through classes, labored through homework, stayed up late to cram for exams. But sometimes your mind would drift to a picture that filled you with hope. In this picture, you’re walking across the platform in cap and gown, a big silly grin on your face, camera flashes going off, and your hand is out to receive your diploma. All the work is behind you; all the reward is ahead.
If you are a Christ follower, heaven is the picture of your future reward. It’s what will finally make sense of everything. And it’s real—as real as the daily struggle is for you now. Heaven is what you can anticipate with every fiber of your being because then all the work will be behind you, all the reward ahead.—Rick McKinley1
Even in the worst situations that seem beyond our capacities, God knows how much our hearts can bear. I hold on to the belief that our life here is temporary, as we are being prepared for eternity. Whether our lives here are good or bad, the promise of heaven awaits. I always have hope in the difficult times that God will give me the strength to endure the challenges and the heartache and that better days await, if not on this earth then for certain in heaven.—Nick Vujicic2
David Livingstone, called the Apostle to Africa, was born in poverty and struggled from childhood for his education, while supporting himself and his family. When he decided as a young man to spend his life as a missionary, he was mocked and scoffed. Even those he loved tried to dissuade him. When he finally arrived in Africa, life presented one hardship after another—not only the difficulties of daily life and natural dangers, but many spiritual tests also. Yet he looked beyond his present circumstances, as summed up in these words spoken to students at Cambridge University: “Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a forgoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink, but let this be only for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us [in heaven]. I never made a sacrifice.”—David Brandt Berg3
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”4 Paul thinks of his life … as a race: “I have finished my course.” Yonder is the goal, with the judge waiting to crown the successful competitor. Along the course are the witnesses, watching the contest, cheering their favorites. Paul had now run the race almost to the end. Just before him was the goal, and he saw the crown shining, ready to be put upon his brow. The racer strains every muscle and puts all his strength into the race. So Paul had lived. We must do our very best always if we would win in life’s race.
Then life is also a trust, something given to keep and guard and use, and bring home at last unimpaired. “I have kept the faith.” Everyone’s life is a trust—something he has to answer for. Whatever God gives us is a trust. The parable of the talents illustrates this. Young people should think of life and its privileges as not their own—they receive all they have and are from God, not to be spent on their own pleasure, but for the blessing of others and then to be accounted for—not the bare talents merely as first received, but the talents increased by use. The story of the man with the one talent is forever a warning to all who do not make the most of their gifts and opportunities.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown.” It was only a wreath of laurel that the ancient racer who first touched the goal received, but it is a crown of fadeless glory which every Christian racer will receive. So there is something to live for besides the pleasure of success in this world. Those who live the life of faith will receive a crown. One may even fail in this world’s struggles, not making a success of his life, as men estimate life, and yet be wonderfully successful in the true sense, gaining eternal reward. If we live well in this present time, we lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven.—J. R. Miller5
Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, which could have been his, because he looked to the reward.6 He looked beyond his day and all of its problems and temptations and saw Jesus. He had an eye on eternity and its great rewards, and counted the riches of Christ greater than all the riches of Egypt, the richest, most powerful nation on earth in that day, of which he could have been pharaoh.7—David Brandt Berg8
Jesus said where your treasure is, there your heart is also.9 Some people quote that “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.” But that isn’t the way it is. The Lord said where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Then we know the following passage so well, but let’s read it again: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” That’s in John 14:2. And Matthew 6:19–21 says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt.” This might have said, “and fire burns.” “And where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there the heart is also.”
I wonder, what do you treasure most? Where is your treasure? Have you laid up treasures in heaven? You may be poor and yet have no treasures in heaven. This is not a question of poverty or riches, but it’s a question of have you laid up treasures in heaven?—Virginia Brandt Berg10
Published on Anchor January 2014. Read by Irene Quiti Vera.
Music by Michael Dooley.
1 This Beautiful Mess (Multnomah Books, 2006).
2 Life Without Limits (Doubleday, 2010).
3 Obstacles Are for Overcoming (Aurora Production, 2010).
4 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV.
5 Paul's Message for Today (Hodder and Stoughton, 1904), adapted.
6 Hebrews 11:26.
7 Hebrews 11:24–27.
8 Daily Might (Aurora Production, 2004).
9 Matthew 6:21.