For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Death. End of life. Funerals. Sadness. Loss. Separation. Finality. It is hard to understand or fathom what the end of life means. Everything we know is about life and living. There can never be a time we are prepared to accept the death of a loved one or friend. Our own mortality is but a vague picture hidden behind a darkened window that none of us truly grasp. Life is about living. We rejoice in the birth of a child and mourn the death of the elderly. Tragedy fills the void with the injustice of premature death. Throughout the scriptures the Lord tells us about this thing called eternity but we skim over the words as lightly as a feather. It means little because we cannot grasp its meaning. Yet it is the central theme of the Bible. The word of God is about Jesus Christ who lived before the world was created, walked among men on the earth and lives even now at the right hand of the Father. Eternity.
It is seldom realized the true nature of man. We remember our childhood and early adult life as a time of endless life. Growing older we mature in our knowledge of things of this world. Entering the golden age of life a clearer picture of the brevity of life emerges. But how do we understand the next step – entering life after death? The focus and fear of life is the reality of death. There should never be a fear of death for those who understand the true nature of eternity. The mortal flesh is but a temporary dwelling place of time. Life has a beginning in birth and ends in the destruction of the flesh in death. The reality is we are eternal creatures that will never cease to exist. Eternity is without end.
Everything in life has an end. Childhood ends in adolescence. School closes in graduation. Retirement is the reward for working a number of years and no longer punching a clock. New things become old. Dynasty’s end, kingdoms fall, plans cease – everything we know comes to a complete end. Eternity is not like that. It never ends (and even that thought is difficult to grasp). God tells us He inhabits eternity. We believe He formed the worlds before the world existed. He is ageless. The Bible tells us the world beyond death is without end. Jesus taught the wicked will be punished with everlasting fire and the righteous blessed with eternal life. Everlasting? Eternal? The things that are not seen are eternal. What a thought to understand.
When we begin to realize that we will never cease to exist; that death is not final but a beginning – it will change the way we live. Whether we fully grasp the meaning of eternity is not necessary. The greatest story ever told is the promise that God has given to all men that they can leave this life and exist in a place that is without end – literally. The joys of eternal life are real. But so is the reality of an eternal Hell. All men are eternal. The choices we make in life will determine whether eternity is full of peace or horror. Either way – there is no end. Eternity. Now that is a great story.
God hath given to man a short time here upon earth, and yet upon this short time eternity depends. (Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living, 1650)