This is the first installment of a weekly series I am going to start on my blog called Keeping an Eternal Perspective. Ever since I started back to work full-time at the beginning of May, God has been reminding me to keep my focus on eternity and the rewards He has promised to me there, as well as the blessings I receive by living a life that glorifies Him here.
I wanted to share a story I read in my Girlfriends in God devotion this morning:
A wealthy man prayed and asked for permission to take his earthly wealth with him when he died and went to heaven. An angel appeared to the man and said, “We heard your prayer, but I am sorry. You simply cannot take it with you.” The man pleaded so passionately that the angel said, “Let me see what I can do.” When the angel returned, he reported, “Good news! God has made an exception for you. You may bring one suitcase with you when it is your time to go.” Delighted, the man packed his one suitcase and went on with life. Several years later, he died and appeared at the Pearly Gates where he was met by St. Peter who took one look at the suitcase and said, “I am sorry, sir, but you cannot bring that in with you.” The man protested, “But I received special permission.” Just then, the angel appeared and said, “Peter, it is true. He has special permission to bring one suitcase in with him.” Curious, Peter said, “Do you mind showing me what is in the bag that is so important to you?” With a smile, the man replied, “Not at all” and proceeded to open the suitcase to reveal stacks of gold bricks. Peter’s face said it all, “Pavement? You brought pavement with you?”
I loved that story because it shows how skewed our view of reality is. To echo one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
We are not aware of the immensity of the joys to be given us in heaven: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). We don’t often focus on the joys that come to us in this life as a result of living for God’s glory and not for our own: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Throughout my Christian walk, God has called me to give up good things (like shopping) for greater things, even if that greater thing is only my own personal sanctification. My time reading through 2 Corinthians has reminded me that not only are those sacrifices worth it because they are an outworking of obedience, they are also producing “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” I am not fully aware of the work God is doing in my life through these circumstances but the promise that He is using these things to sanctify me and glorify Himself through me is everywhere in the Bible.
So that is where my heart is resting today.