My First Ten Billion Years

My calendar is too small.

I can become so concerned with things here, now, but should be concerned deeply only in as much as those things impact eternity. But I get distracted oh so easily. Don’t you? I fail to see the scope of it all.

Things here impact things there and vice versa. What I do now will echo many years from now.

Ten billion years.

I’m preparing in the here and now for the there and then. I will even get to be with Christ and the people I love who know Him for ten billion years…

And ten billion beyond that. And beyond that again and again. We are going to spend forever together.

That’s a comfort, but it makes me think about how short life is. Then I think, “What about all those things that God places on our hearts that may never be fulfilled here?

Does any truly God-given dream ever die? I don’t believe so.

Let’s take reality and stretch it out on the correct scale.

What if God gives certain dreams and certain desires and plans to fulfill them all completely by His presence only after our earthly life ends? That wouldn’t be cheating us at all. We are already eternal beings, not just in His eyes, but in reality. Heaven is a clearer reality, much more than here.

No lies. No struggle. No death.
Only peace, joy and perfection.
If I don’t have it here, I’ll get it there.

But the world, my flesh and the Enemy all murmur to me that reality there isn’t enough. Reality there does not change the rumblings of my needs today. The hunger pangs come. The seeds of desire watered by floods of discontent. “I need it here. Now.”

Sin is so very near-sighted. Sin wants you to believe there is nothing but the now.

There are some who buy into that thinking. They reason, “I’m saved. God forgives me, so I can live however I want because I’m going to heaven anyway. So I want to just have fun in this life here on earth, and then I get to enjoy heaven too. It doesn’t really matter what I do here.”

If I live in that shortsighted way, I am wasting my life. It means I have the opportunity to live for Christ, see others come to know Him, grow in His likeness and be used by Him to make an eternal difference for His Kingdom…but choose instead to waste my life. I am saying, in a real sense, “God, You gave me breath, and I am wasting it.”

Are you wasting your life on the temporary? I am ashamed to have spent so much of my time doing so.

But I am learning to “see things largely.”

I won’t look back on a wasted life if I seek to die to self now.

In learning how to die, I’m learning to live. Open hands have even more to give…and more to receive.

Every time I die, I can live more. Every time my hand opens wider to release something in obedience, He pours more of Himself into that stretched hand. His arms stretched wide, upon the Cross, gave all, open to the fullness of the perfect course set by the Father. He could, we can, sacrifice because He has received and given all things (John 13:3; Rom. 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3; Phil. 2:8-11).

Dying through loving, living through dying, receiving through giving.

And then those first ten billion years…
There is no more death.
Ever.
Of any sort.

Including death to self.
There will be no need. We will be fully alive to God.
We won’t want to sin.

Ever.

Death of the body and death of the self will not exist there.

All of this brought to mind an old question for me. I have pondered it for years. Ever since I was small, it’s been a theological burr under my saddle.

I have often wondered why God calls us to die to self here (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6). I mean, if He’s going to make us all perfect in an instant, why would we be that concerned about progressively becoming like Him? If He is going to eliminate all my sin in one fell swoop, why should I expend so much energy in killing it off piecemeal now?

I know it is so that others would see what we have and be drawn to Him. Yes, true.

It is also an act of obedience…true as well.

And I know that ultimately, it is for the glory of God. As we reveal Christ, through relatable, broken bodies and lives, God’s revealed glory inches its way along in the universe claiming steadily and bit by bit that which is His. One day the universe will be filled with His glory because we will all be full of His glory (Hab. 2:14). We will be perfect image bearers and His perfect glory borne by us (Rev. 21:25-26).

I know that is all true, and that is enough, but I always had the nagging thought that there was more. That there was some other reason to add to all of that. I know now…

It’s enjoyable.

It’s the way of joy.

Death, that is.

We won’t be able to enjoy any relationship with God or anyone else apart from death to ourselves. In dying, I can love and live as I should.

In dying to self, I know Him better. There is no other way by which I can know Him.

The more I die to self, the greater my capacity to know and love and enjoy Him.

The greater my capacity to know and love and enjoy Him, the greater my capacity to know and love and enjoy others on His behalf for His glory.

I’m only unwilling to release and receive because I have bought into what a former friend calls “the serpent-hissed lie” that the Almighty is holding out on me. The reality is that any time I feel He is holding out on me, it is a clear indication that I am holding on to something other than Him.

If we fail to die to self, we will fail to know Him. Our capacity for loving Him will be weakened and reduced, no one will be drawn to His love radiating from within us…and we will be incapable of loving another as He does.

I can only know and love God here to the extent I am dead to self.

My goal is to know and love Him fully and to know and love others just as He does. That is my goal for today, even though I know it will only become a perfect reality later.

I want to be ready now, here, for my first ten billion years there.

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