Lately, I've been hearing a lot about eternity and I've been pondering what it all means. Christian speakers say God has placed the longing for eternity in all of our hearts. I found the verse in Ecclesiastes 3:10-11:
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Whether one believes in God, most of us believe there is something after this life. Most of the world's religions describe an after-life of some sort. Some describe becoming their own god and ruling a planet. Some describe a reward of hundreds of virgins for dying for a cause. Let's look at the eternal life described by God, the creator of the universe. In John 14:1-3, Jesus comforts His disciples by saying:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.
He has given us glimpses of what He is preparing for His people, by allowing some to temporarily pass from this world and return to tell their story. Two stories that made a huge impact on my view of heaven are:
Ninety Minutes in Heaven, by Don Piper. Don Piper shares his experience in heaven when he died for 90 minutes here on earth. When speaking about singing and music in heaven, he says:
"I didn't just hear music. It seemed as if I were part of the music."
"I woke up to singing and found myself singing too."
Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo. Todd's son Colton is given a glimpse of heaven, without dying. His description matches verses from Revelation 21:18-21
(Colton speaking) "Hey, Dad, did you know Jesus has a horse?" (Dad speaking) "A horse?" (Colton) "Yeah, a rainbow horse..." (Dad) "Where are there lots of colors, Colton?" (Colton) "In heaven, Dad. That's where all the rainbow colors are."
Rev. 21:18-21 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure transparent glass.
While heaven is beautifully described in these two books, there is another side of eternity.
Matthew 13:49-50 "This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Mathew 25:41,46 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'...Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Do we get to choose where we'll spend eternity? According to God's word, we do.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
I Timothy 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.
Where will you choose to spend eternity? I'm planning to spend it in the beautiful city with my Savior and fellow believers. I hope you'll be in my neighborhood.