Focus on Forever — Today!

(Excerpted from the book, Glorious Finish: Keeping Your Eye on the Prize of Eternity in a Time of Pastoral Failings)

J.I. Packer noted, “Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But it invariably does. The hearts of those in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever.’ And it will. There can be no better news than this.”[i] No better news indeed.

“Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But it invariably does. The hearts of those in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever.’” J.I. Packer

We are exceedingly wise to remember that the scoreboard for this brief life is in heaven. The scorekeeper is perfect. He never misses a call. Our reward is truly forever and we will participate in “his eternal glory in Christ” (1 Peter 5:10).

We are exceedingly wise to remember that the scoreboard for this brief life is in heaven. The scorekeeper is perfect. He never misses a call. Our reward is truly forever and we will participate in “his eternal glory in Christ” (1 Peter 5:10).

My favorite devotional writer, Walter Henrichesen, wrote, “There are two perspectives on life: mine and God’s. This is God’s perspective: Compared to eternity, my life is less than a moment. The best of men live vain, futile lives. My perspective on life, in order for it to be properly invested, must be shaped by God’s perspective.”[ii]

“The best of men live vain, futile lives. My perspective on life, in order for it to be properly invested, must be shaped by God’s perspective.” Walter Henrichsen

Your Last Week of Life?

Some years ago, Guideposts magazine offered an account of Billie Kay Bothwell. She was a bright high-school junior, highly respected for her genuine faith in Christ. One day her English literature class was given a writing assignment titled, “The Last Week of My Life.” Her essay read as follows:

Today I live, a week from today I die. If a situation came to me such as, I would probably weep. As soon as I realized that there were many things to be done, though, I would try to regain my composure.

The first day of my suddenly shortened life, I would use to see all of my loved ones and assure them I loved them. I wouldn’t hint that anything was wrong because I wouldn’t want to remember them sorrowing but as being happy. I would ask God to give me strength to bear the rest of my precious few days and give me His hand, to walk with Him.

On the second day I would awake to see the rising sun in all its beauty that I had so often cast aside for a few extra moments of coveted sleep. I would gather all my possessions and give them to the needy, trying to console them as much as possible and urge them to consult God for courage.

The third day, I would spend alone in the woods, with the presence of God’s creation and goodness and creation around me. In the sweetness of nature, I would sit and reminisce of my fondest memories.

On my fourth day I would prepare my will; The small sentimental things I would leave to my family and friends. This being done, I would go to my mother and spend the day with her. We have always been close and I would want to reassure my love to her especially.

Friday would be spent with my minister; I would speak to him of my spiritual life. I would like to go with him to see those who were ill and silently be thankful that I knew no pain.

Saturday I would spend seeing the shut-ins I had so often put off until another day. On this night before my death, I would probably remain awake fearing my impending death, and yet, also preparing for it knowing that God was by my side.

Upon awakening Sunday morning, I would make all my last preparations. Taking my Bible, I would go to church to spend my last hours in prayer. I would ask Him for the courage to face the remaining hours that I might die gracefully. I would hope that my life had bearing on someone and had glorified His holy name. The last hour would be spent in perfect harmony with my God . . .

One week almost to the day after she handed in this essay, Billie Kay Bothwell was ushered into eternity when she was killed in an automobile accident just outside her home in Marion, Indiana. She was returning from a movie with three teenage friends when the car in which she was a passenger was struck from the rear and rolled over two or three times, then caught fire.[iii]

Just Ahead: Eternal Glory

Indeed, life is but a vapor—whether we are a teenager, a middle- ager, or an old-ager. In light of eternity, we have just a fraction of a moment left here on earth. We must steward God’s grace in view of the eternal glory just beyond this brief appearance. Like Billie Kay Bothwell, we must think clearly, act intentionally, and plan with the glorious “end in mind.”

Indeed, life is but a vapor—whether we are a teenager, a middle- ager, or an old-ager. In light of eternity, we have just a fraction of a moment left here on earth. We must steward God’s grace in view of the eternal glory just beyond this brief appearance.

Today you may be overwhelmed with great anticipation about a long-overdue vacation, the conferring of a degree, an eventual retirement, or the cashing out of your paid-for home. You may be looking forward to seeing someone you love—the reunion with a best friend from college, the arrival of your first child, or a visit with your grandchildren.

But there will be nothing, nothing, nothing like that moment when you see Jesus. There will be no joy in all of your existence like the joy of His reward and the eternal glory that follows. Could there be any greater purpose or passion in life than living in such a way that the rewarder of your ministry and the lover your soul will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23)?

There will be nothing, nothing, nothing like that moment when you see Jesus. There will be no joy in all of your existence like the joy of His reward and the eternal glory that follows.

Copyright © 2020 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.

[i] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology (Leicester, UK: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993), 266.

[ii] Walter Henrichsen, Warnings for a People Not Listening to God: A Daily Devotional (El Cajon, CA: Leadership Foundation, 2012), 293.

[iii] The Guideposts Treasury of Faith (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979), 467–68. Used by permission.