From Here to Eternity: Why Our Lives Matter

April 23, 2013

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.

 

10 Comments

  • Adam @Hanging with Dad

    April 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    In my view, the definition of heaven is being with God. It’s not the whole wings and harps, etc, it’s just the sheer joy of being in his presence. Hell, on the other hand, is the absence of God. It’s being in a place where you know God exists, but you are shielded from ever being with him.

    That’s a big reason why I don’t believe hell exists (or if it did then the coming of Christ destroyed it). I don’t believe that God would separate himself from creations that he made in his image. The people who deny his existence need his love and presence even more than the believers.

    Maybe it’s too simplistic a view for many, but things don’t always have to be complicated now, do they?

  • Jess

    April 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Your comment to Amy was a great post in itself!

  • Lynda Schrader

    April 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I loved your post and your reply to Amy. I have always believed that faith and spirituality are a journey, not a destination. I was raised in the old Southern Baptist church and it took me a long time to undo a lot do what they taught. But my journey continues. I wobble around wondering about this and that but always come back to the idea of a “spirit”, a force, if you will, in the universe that guides us. Anyone who says they have all the answers to all the questions is either a liar or seriously deluded. There is so much to comprehend that it boggles my mind.

  • Kersten

    April 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I very much enjoy your posts about your faith. Thank you for your honesty.

  • Angi

    April 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I love this encouragement. Sometimes I am so excited about the upcoming birth of my twins and some days I am so overwhelmed with grief from the loss of the little boy I barely got to know. This high and low and up and down is exhausting. But I tattooed on my wrist after I lost my Baxter a blueberry (which is how big he was when we lost him) and the scripture 1 Samuel 1:28, which says, “So from this day forward I give him to the Lord, from this day on he belongs to the Lord.” I see that and I’m reminded no matter what happens in this life – my children, my husband, my parents and myself will always get to have eternity with our Creator. What a joy! What a promise! I just can’t even wrap my imagination around how incredibly amazing it will be. Come Lord Jesus, COME!

  • Kiki

    April 23, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    “there is a place in heaven you can’t even comprehend that blows anything here away”
    Amen sister!
    I needed to read this after the news about the Gosnell trial. Thank you!

  • sarah

    April 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Yes, the Corinthians quote is perfect. The glories of heaven cannot be understood from here. I think most kids think like you did, but we cannot fathom enjoying being with God so much because we do not really know Him. I think of when two people are first in love and engaged and it’s so painful to be apart. You miss him even if you haven’t seen him for a night, and you enjoy being together just to be together. . .because you’re in love. The love God has for us is so much greater than that, and when we can really experience that in heaven, I can only imagine the joy there will be.

    The problem of suffering is one of the greatest there is. God allows evil to bring good there from. Good and bad people both suffer and prosper in this world (I forget the exact quote from the Bible) because of sin. It is all for our good, and God’s glory, we just can’t see the big picture from where we’re standing.

    Prayers for you and yours while you navigate all of this!

  • Amy

    April 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Have you ever considered writing a post about why you’re a Christian? I wasn’t brought up in a religious family, so I’ve grown up lumping all religions into the “mythology” category, but I’m fascinated by the idea of believing in something that often seems at odds with common sense. I understand why people WANT to believe, of course – everyone wants to know how we got here, and what happens to us when we die, and to not feel completely powerless over our fates – but I’ve never understood how people actually do it. Why do you think it’s not all fairy tales? Do you think of other religions as make-believe but yours as the truth? Do you think you would be a Christian if your family hadn’t raised you in the church? I truly mean no disrespect here. You’re a good writer, and I guess I’m just trying to comprehend something I’ve never experienced myself. Thank you for any insight, and best wishes to you and your family.

    1. Diana

      April 25, 2013 at 9:50 am

      Hi Amy,

      So these past two days I have thought a LOT about your comments. They really challenged me. To be honest, at first I wanted to do the standard, “It’s because I have faith, blah blah,” answer but then I kept coming back to things I’ve struggled with even before losing my twins.

      So here’s my answer, as honest as I can get: I don’t know that this isn’t a fairy tale, or a really nice story. I struggle with aspects of Christianity and my faith that seem to go against everything reasonable here on earth. I don’t know if perhaps another faith isn’t the “right” one – because I know there are other people who have a greater faith and less doubt than I, and they believe a completely different religion.

      All I can say for me is that yes, part of what I believe is how I was raised. But – I also know my parents gave me great freedom to learn and know about other things. It wasn’t for many years that I truly had an faith or desire to know about God more. I want the same for Bella, I want her to come to the conclusion she believes what she does because *she* got to that point, not because I brainwashed her. Does that make sense?

      I draw back to my faith and beliefs because in my life, I’ve seen too much happen to call it coincidence or random sets of events. I have felt a tremendous peace that leaves me to believe there has to be a higher power to help me through the moments I thought I might die from the pain. I feel like, for me, this life and faith can’t hurt me – there isn’t a part of it I might regret at the end of my life. So I press on to find a better answer one day 🙂 and to dig deeper in moments where I don’t know where else to turn but my God and the life that lays behind me to look back at His Hands on.

      I hope that makes sense. I truly appreciate your question and the way it was asked, and thank you.

      Diana

      1. Amy

        May 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm

        Thank you so much for your response, Diana. When you put it like that, it makes perfect sense: if you’re following a faith that teaches you to be kind to others and comforts you during the dark times, then it doesn’t matter if it’s 100% truth or 100% fiction or a combination of the two, because the end result is only good. And I feel like any benevolent Higher Power would agree.

        Even though I have trouble believing in the stories of organized religion, I still think there are miracles around us all the time, on a grand and tiny scale. I’m happy with the idea that there could be something out there, looking after us in an unknowable manner. When I send up prayers to the universe that my daughter will always be happy, healthy, safe, and loved, and prayers of thanks for the beauty in life, I just figure they’ll drift to where they need to go. Thanks again for giving me more to think about.

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