50 DAYS OF Heaven Reflections That Bring Eternity to Light
By RANDY ALCORN
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2006 Eternal Perspective Ministries
All right reserved. ISBN: 1-4143-0976-7
Chapter One DAY 1
IF WE CAN JUST SEE THE SHORE
Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. -Luke 10:20
* * * It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven.... Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness? -Jonathan Edwards
Life in this world-the way it is now and the way we are now-isn't easy, is it?
Perhaps you're burdened, discouraged, depressed, or even traumatized. Perhaps you've lost a loved one. Perhaps your dreams-your family, career, or lifelong ambitions-have crumbled. Perhaps you've become cynical or have lost hope. A biblical under standing of the truth about Heaven can change all that.
Secular optimists are merely wishful thinkers. Having discovered the present payoffs of optimism, they conduct seminars and write books about positive thinking. Sometimes they capitalize on optimism by becoming rich and famous. But then what happens? They eventually get old or sick, and when they die, they are unprepared to meet God. Their optimism is ultimately an illusion, for it fails to take eternity into account.
The only proper foundation for optimism is theredemptive work of Jesus Christ. If we build our lives on this solid foundation, we should all be optimists. Why? Because even our most painful experiences in life are but temporary setbacks. Our pain and suffering may or may not be relieved in this life, but they will certainly be relieved in the life to come. That is Christ's promise-no more pain or death; he will wipe away all our tears. He took our sufferings on himself so that one day he might remove all suffering from the world. That is the biblical foundation for our optimism. Any other foundation is like sand, not rock. It will not bear the weight of our eternity.
No Christian should be pessimistic. We should be true realists-focused on the reality that we serve a sovereign and gracious God. Because of the reality of Christ's atoning sacrifice and his promises, biblical realism is optimism.
By meditating on Heaven and learning to look forward to it, we don't eliminate our pain, but we can alleviate it and put it in perspective. We're reminded that suffering and death are only temporary conditions.
Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death, "so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14-15).
In light of the coming resurrection of the dead, the apostle Paul asks, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55).
We should not romanticize death. But those who know Jesus should realize that death is a gateway to never-ending joy.
Grasping what the Bible teaches about Heaven will shift our center of gravity and radically alter our perspective on life. It will give us hope, a word that the apostle Paul uses six times in Romans 8:20-25, where he explains that all creation longs for our resurrection and the world's coming redemption.
Don't place your hope in favorable life circumstances-they cannot and will not last. Instead, place your hope in Jesus Christ and his promises. One day he will return, and those who have placed their faith in him will be resurrected to life on the New Earth. They will behold God's face and joyfully serve him forever.
In 1952, Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island, California, determined to swim to the mainland. An experienced swimmer, she had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways.
The weather that day was foggy and chilly; Florence could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam steadily for fifteen hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside, told her that she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, Florence stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn't until she was aboard the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away. At a news conference the next day, she said, "All I could see was the fog.... I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it."
As you face discouragement, difficulty, or fatigue, or as you are surrounded by the fog of uncertain circumstances, are you thinking, If only I could see the shore, I could make it?
Set your sights on Jesus Christ, the Rock of salvation. He is the one who has promised to prepare a place for those who put their hope in him, a place where they will live with him forever. If we can learn to fix our eyes on Jesus, to see through the fog and picture our eternal home in our mind's eye, it will comfort and energize us, giving us a clear look at the finish line.
When the apostle Paul faced hardship, beatings, and imprisonment, he said, "One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
What gave Paul the strength and perspective to "press on toward the goal"? A clear view of Heaven. He wanted to "win the prize" that awaited him in Heaven, and he knew that God had "called [him] heavenward in Christ Jesus."
If you're weary and don't know how you can keep going, I pray this book will give you encouragement, vision, and hope. No matter how tough life becomes, if you can see the shore and draw your strength from Christ, you'll make it.
Are you able to see the shore? Will you ask God now to help you see it?
O God, Father of all promise and hope, maker of a world that was once perfect and one day will be perfect again, help us to look beyond the fog of this world. Help us to see the shore of the homeland that awaits us-a glorious, eternal Kingdom purchased by the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Savior and the King of kings.
Excerpted from 50 DAYS OF Heaven by RANDY ALCORN Copyright © 2006 by Eternal Perspective Ministries. Excerpted by permission.
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