“He (God) has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Consider for a minute that you have signed up to be an astronaut going to Pluto. The fastest we have gotten a spacecraft to Pluto is 9 ½ years. Since it takes that long, I think it would be wise to stay there about 30 years, then you have a 9 ½ year trip home. Seriously, you don’t drive 10 hours to the beach in the gulf, only to stay there a day or two. So you’re preparing for your 49 year journey and I ask you how would you live and handle life until you depart?
You sure would live differently, right? I would cherish each day with the one’s I love. Actually, I would cherish each day simply living before I blast-off, period. Now as I think it through, the one thing I would do is train for the trip, you know have mock flights, dress rehearsals. I would be focused on the trip, the 49 years. I would want to be ready for the trip. Prior to departure, possibly the number 1 thing on my mind would be the trip and my life would be totally a preparation for the trip.
Well, this analogy is the same as how we should live now in light of the fact that one day we will take our last breath, then we will blast-off into eternity. Maybe we will have 100 hundred years here, but that is a short time compared to spending the rest of our life in eternity, forever, infinitely. God spoke and said we have a sense of the future in our minds. Just as the Pluto astronaut is designed to live for the Pluto trip, you were designed by God to live for the eternity trip.
You have many choices as you go through life but eternity only offers two: heaven or hell. C.S. Lewis wrote: “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right then, have it your way.” That choice is yours so one choice means you will be forever in the presence of the Lord and the other is to be separated.
We need to stop for a second and when Lewis speaks of that phrase, “Thy will be done.” I read into that that doesn’t mean you have come to the alter once and pray, that doesn’t mean you just “believe” in Jesus, thy will be done means you have an ongoing, personal, real, relationship with Jesus doing what He desires in every aspect of your life. Training means eternity is always in your mind. If you’re saying you’re a believer yet upon analysis you’re living and doing things which really reflect “your way” rather than God’s will be done, you are not living with eternity in mind. Frankly you’re kidding yourself.
So we are training for eternity, blast-off. Training for such a big event would make many daily things that seem important in the world, goals, and even problems seem trivial, petty, and time-consuming. Living for eternity changes values. Training for the ultimate departure makes relationships more important rather than fame or wealth or achievements or even a lot of pleasure seeking. I officiated a funeral Wednesday and the ladies motto was “people are worth more than money.” Is keeping up with others with your money and pride your priority?
Paul said Philippians 3:7-8: “Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
Frankly folks, we often have a lot of rubbish we hold on too and when we blast off that rubbish won’t matter. We may think that accumulating money, have a real nice house, having a full closet, driving a good car is not rubbish, in fact it we may think it wise and prudent, but I ask you is it that you just “needed” it or is it above that, a fulfillment of your wants? Is it short-term in this life desires and things or is it too much. What are your values? What is important? You worry more about what you will have in this life until you take your last breath or are you eternity minded in your values?
We cannot comprehend what eternity or heaven will be like, no clue. But I do think there is one thing for sure, our Bible sure leads us to believe that we won’t just be playing harps or laying on the clouds like Care Bears. I do believe that our Bible is clear about the fact that there will be no more tears or suffering AND we will be rewarded for our faithfulness on this earth AND we will be reassigned work that we enjoy. We WILL have constant fellowship with God and he will enjoy us forever and forever and forever.
This world is not our home. Hebrews 13:14 NRSV, “For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” Same verse Living Bible translation: “This world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven.”
Here is the best scripture to point out the difference between living for “now” versus living for blast-off, eternity: 1 John 2:15-17” Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.”
Isn’t that beautiful? Doing the will of God is living for eternity. Doing the will of God is living each day as if it were the last day of your life. Let that soak in. What needs cleaned up in our life before that last day? Who have you withheld love from? Who have you not forgiven? Is there little things that you have blown into big things that you regret and you haven’t reconciled? Who haven’t you spoken too? Live each day as if it were the last day of your life, live for eternity, live in preparation of eternity, live as our responsive reading said: “So teach us to number our days that we may receive a heart of wisdom. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands.
So how does God desire to prepare us for blast-off? Well it is not what the world thinks it is. Romans 12:2 The Message: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” As we prepare to blast-off into eternity we must remember:
1. Life before blast-off is a Test.
Open the Bible and it is clear, words like trials, temptation, refining etc. Abraham told to sacrifice Issaac, Jacob, Adam and Eve, David. Some were successes and some failed the tests. All of life is a test. You are always being tested and God watches your response to people, problems, conflicts, success, illness, and disappointment. God will test your faith and hope and love of God and others through, major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism and yes senseless tragedies.
Tests grow character and we are tested every day. Nothing is insignificant in the course of each day as God is testing you to grow, to deepen your love for God, or others, or to depend on God. God wants you to pass the tests and God does not test you with more than you can take. Passing the tests have eternal implications at blast-off into eternity.
James 1:12, “Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” The crown of life.
2. Life before blast-off is a Trust.
Everything, folks we often forget this, everything we have here on earth God has entrusted it to us. Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” I believe all of us have a very clear habit of forgetting this before blast-off, maybe not all of the time, but often. Our time on earth, our energy, our intelligence, our opportunities, our relationships, all and every resource of our life, God has given to us for our care and management…BUT GOD OWNS IT ALL! He just loaned it to us and when we blast off he will loan it to another. You have things now to care for, for God.
In our culture we think we must own it in order to take care of it. If you own your car, you will take care of it. I will admit in my past life I rented a few cars, when the car was rented, I drove it differently, you know a little harder, trashed it a little more etc I knew it wasn’t mine so who cares. Anybody been a landlord? What happened to the condition of that house you rented usually?
When we remember God owns everything, our attitude towards things changes 180 degrees. The way we treat things now affects our time in heaven. Parable of the talents. Matthew 25:21, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”
Yes, I believe there will be rewards in heaven based on how we live here. God will give you an “atta-boy or girl”, “well done”, good job. You will be promoted “I will put you in charge of many things”. You will be a part of a great celebration with God: “Enter into the joy of your master.” God watches how we use his “stuff”. $ is both a test and trust Life before blast-off is a test and a trust and ….
3. Life before blast-off is a Temporary Assignment.
Life before our blast-off is brief. The Bible says we are a mist, a wisp, a breath and the list can go on. In light of the fact that heaven or hell is eternal, infinite, our time here is temporary. Our life here on earth is like that nice condo on the beach we rent for a week, enjoy the condo, but don’t get attached to it. Enjoy this life but don’t get attached to it. Enjoy the things of this life but stop getting so attached to those things and stuff.
The Bible says that you are an alien, pilgrim, foreigner, stranger and a visitor here. Your true citizenship is in heaven. Beach condo analogy? For the week I’m at the beach, I’m not really a beach bum but I’m a pastor temporarily on the beach. Enjoy it but don’t get attached to it.
Our homeland is heaven not earth so stop being driven to have it all on earth, stop worrying about it, stop being tempted by it, stop living each day before blast-off in the now, in this world, rather than preparing and training for the next world because you are only here a short time.
With this life being a temporary assignment, our values must not be world values. World values say that our goals should be material success, personal accumulation, prosperity, win at all cost, nobody likes a loser, power is everything, the abundant life is based on material things and pride driven things, status, success, long life.
Well we find in the Bible this isn’t always the case when we are driven by faith. Paul ended up in prison, John the Baptist got beheaded, Christian martyrs die worldwide every day, faithful followers of Jesus die every day with little material things….maybe it’s time we focus differently and remember that life is a temporary assignment and the end of life here is the real beginning of life. The heroes of faith treat life here as a temporary assignment and serve faithfully, love totally, and spread the Gospel diligently.
I believe that when we get to heaven we might immediately think and maybe scream: “Why did I place so much importance on things that were just temporary and nothing compared to this?” Yes, we are not home here, we will be home when we take our last breath. It’s time we really live with the motto, “Take this world and give me Jesus” in our heart.