What's Most Important?
I zoomed off the other day on a trip to the city. I reached my favourite bookshop and wandered from aisle to aisle checking books and buying gifts. The next hour disappeared in the blink of an eye. I had a cash gift to spend and a few ideas of books I could buy. God however had other ideas. I don’t usually buy devotionals—I prefer to have a longer time of Bible study with the Lord. That day though, before I began to browse the shelves, my eye caught Sarah Young’s devotional ‘Jesus Always’ and I had to have a peek.
Her life-giving words seeped into my heart, filling it with heavenly fire and holy longing. The cover declared ‘Embracing JOY in His presence’—I was hooked. 2017 is ‘My Year of Joy’, after all, so here it was—God’s gift to me to understand what that really meant. (Thank you God.) Another book sang out to me as I passed its shelf and I had to obey its summons -“Imagine Heaven’ by John Burke. The author shares near death experiences (NDE’s), and is passionate about LIFE after life. He assures his readers that his research with people who’ve experienced a trip beyond death reveals that the Bible’s accounts of heaven are accurate.
I have always been a lover of life but in the last year or two there has been a change within. My long hard battle with fibro fatigue and pain has quelled some of my passion for life so my gaze has shifted heaven-wards. For awhile, I wondered if it was a good thing. Further reflection revealed that it was not just a good thing but perhaps a God thing. True, life’s a precious gift from God and meant to be savoured and lived fully. But eternity is where we are headed, so preparing for LIFE beyond the grave is surely important.
I‘ve been dipping into books that talk of heaven. Two books which blessed me recently were ‘Glimpses of Heaven’ and ‘Further glimpses of heaven’ by Trudy Harris, RN. She shares how as a hospice nurse working in palliative care, she gave emotional, spiritual and practical support to countless dying people, young and old, during their last months, weeks and days on earth. God’s love and reality as they reached the end of life's journey was very real and very precious. ‘Josiah’s Fire’ by Tahni Cullen and Cheryl Ricker has drawn me closer to God through an amazing young boy’s remarkable insights into God’s heart and the reality of heaven.
You might agree with me that what’s important in heaven’s perspective is often very different to what seems to matters on earth. Perhaps the problem is that we human beings are often good at assigning value on things that don’t have lasting significance. The acquisition of wealth, building reputations rather than character, being super-busy, having a plethora of superficial connections while nursing fractured relationships with those closest to us… these are some of modern world’s foibles. So ... what’s life’s purpose? And what does a good life look like?
I pray that I will never be too heavenly minded for any earthly use! But my focus on LIFE after life should help me live better on earth, don’t you think? The world is an interesting place, with things to do and people to love. According to the author of Imagine Heaven two questions God asks us at the end of our lives are: "What did you do with your life?" and "How well have you loved others?"
When we consider Jesus' two main commandments, the second question is not at all surprising of course. And yet … how many of us live with love as our highest goal—not the gooey feeling of romantic love, but love as in wanting the best for others, often at cost to oneself. Today April 3rd is my beloved Mama’s (92nd) birthday. As I thank God for her life, I remember with joy that Mama found time to do the important things. She and my Dad spent their lives loving others. She always had time for the 36 members of her clan—her beloved Earle, her children and their life-partners, her grandchildren and their life partners and her great grandchildren. And that wasn’t all—a vast number of others too. Until the end of her life at age 89, Mama reached out in love and made time for people.
And so today I thank God for my beloved Mama as she celebrates her birthday in heaven. Following her example, I too desire to spend time doing important things, throwing out those that are inconsequential to life in eternity. Here are a few questions to ponder on today:
What’s Most Important?
1. Do I spend too much time on trivial pursuits? Aren’t there better ways to use my time?
2. Buying so much stuff! Can I take it all with me when I die?
3. How well do I care for those closest to me? How well do I reach out to my world?
4. Am I busy constructing my reputation? Shouldn’t I instead build character?
5. What am I called to? Impressing others or being faithful to His call?
6. To be right? Or to be kind? Which would please God more?
7. Should I build my career? Or use my gifts to care for God’s world?
8. Bitterness or Forgiveness? Which will I choose?
9. Working on projects with no lasting value? Or investing in a deep friendship with God?
10. Ticking all the items on my To-do-list or stopping to help someone in need?
11. Serving my own agenda? Or serving Him who has called me?
12. The world’s yardstick of success? Or pleasing the Father’s Heart?
Life is short and needs to be grasped with both hands.
And … Eternity lasts forever.
How are you spending your time today? What do you consider most important?
“He has planted eternity in the human heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor 4:18