From Here to Eternity: Why Our Lives Matter
When I was little, I remember hearing over and over in Sunday School that one day we’d go to heaven and praise Jesus forever and ever.
And I thought to myself, “NOPE.”
I honestly did not want to do that. Wasn’t heaven supposed to be amazing? Why would I want to die and then just stand around singing hymns all day? We did that for 15 minutes in the service before they dismissed the kids to Sunday School, and it was horrible. I couldn’t see over anyone’s head, the songs were old, it was loud.
For a very long time I’d secretly thought perhaps hell might be better. Sure, eternal burning and all but at least you’d probably get to jump around and do something exciting once in a while.
It was like picking the lesser of the two evils. Burn in hell or don a robe and sing old hymns for a bazillion years?
This past month for She Reads Truth we studied and wrote up daily devotionals with the book of Hosea. I’ll admit – at first I was like, “Who? I’ve barely heard of him, he can’t have been that exciting. WOMP WOMP.”
Reading his story (God tells him to marry a wife that will cheat on him, they have kids they name things that translate to “Not pitied” and “Not my people”) I found myself feeling rather sorry for him. Hosea seemed like a decent, God fearing man. He did as he was told. So in return he got the shaft in life.
What the heck? Didn’t God care that Hosea’s entire personal life was spent with a mess of a wife and mother, kids that may not have been his, and a job that pretty much took over time for anything else? Why would God ask him to do all this just as an example of His and Israel’s relationship?
It didn’t seem fair.
So I’ve struggled with life lately. The “fair” aspect of it all. Not just my fair, but a lot of your fair too. I do think about your stories and lives that crash into mine for one reason or another. They weigh on me as I pray for comfort or answers for you all. Sometimes I’m just plain angry that it works out the way it does.
I have really, really tried to work through this the past months. The only answer my human brain seemed capable of handling was, “That’s just the way life is.” It seemed, well, brutal.
Then yesterday morning, I was up early and my dear friend Kaila, who lost her son Sam shortly after he was born, was our featured testimony on She Reads Truth. I know her story by heart, but this stopped me in my tracks as I read again:
“I know the Lord carried us through that time, and carries us in our grief still. I get glimpses here and there of how His plan is working out, and how He was able to use the life of our son for the glory of His Kingdom. He knew my family was going to need to need our community of Christ-followers to walk with us hand in hand into the valley of grief and be helped up out of it. He knew my husband and I’s relationship depended on His faithfulness. And He knew our son would be a gift to all who heard our testimony.”
I laid in bed and let that wash over me again and again. I wasn’t sure why it seemed so monumental at first, but as I pondered it more throughout the day I started to realize something.
Maybe – maybe heaven isn’t like what Sunday School taught. Maybe it’s not the cliché that we make it out to be either, but that’s it’s simply so astounding that “…as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Maybe God knows what planned in eternity for us, so our lives can make the sacrifice for his Kingdom now. Not that he uses them casually, not that they aren’t important or completely planned by his love. Just that, it’s the blink of an eye. He makes them count for eternity if we let him. All lives. Short and long. Like Hosea, who must have had such complete trust in this plan. If we choose to follow the path he has set, it won’t be easy or perfect but when we get to heaven we’ll also know what he knows:
Our earthly struggles and trials were worth it.
And that’s what I cling to in hard days. And remind myself on lovely ones. That’s what I want to pass on to my children. That this life matters because the rest of eternity matters. If you can make it count on earth for his Kingdom, there is a place in heaven you can’t even comprehend that blows anything here away.
To me, that makes life just that much sweeter here. All of it.