We all have longings and dreams for our future. It’s normal and healthy to look ahead and consider our future. The book of Proverbs encourages such wisdom and prudent planning.
But, what if Jesus comes for us before we realize our desires for the future? What if we never experience what we long for most in this life?
I have often thought about these questions during the past couple of months. My wife, Ruth, and I recently moved to a new home. Before that, however, we talked about the possibility that Jesus might come for us beforehand.
We wondered how we could balance our excitement about our brand new home with the realization that Jesus could come at any moment.
For that matter, how do we keep a proper balance between our dreams for this life and eternity? What are some steps we can take to keep our goals in perspective when our aspirations for the future loom large in front of us?
- Admit Your Excitement
Our desires for graduation, marriage, children, a new home, and retirement are not bad by themselves. It’s okay to dream about what lies ahead and set goals, as long as we keep the Lord in His proper place. Is it not God who often gives us the desires of our hearts concerning our future?
As we walk with the Lord, He brings good things into our lives for us to enjoy. In their proper place, they can be blessings to us as well as to those around us.
So we can go ahead and admit our excitement about what lies before us, whether it’s a long-anticipated vacation or wedding, or long-awaited celebration. However, such aspirations must not become the main things in our lives.
- Stay Close to the Lord
This past weekend, I listened as JD Farag (in his June 17 prophecy update) discussed the lack of interest among millennials in Bible prophecy. As he pointed out, one factor for this is the love of this younger generation for this life. It’s normal to be excited about one’s future; however, our lives are so much more than just what we can see in front of us in this world.
This morning, as I was still pondering his update, I read Philippians 1:18-26 where the Apostle Paul writes about his desire to be with the Lord in heaven versus his longing to continue ministering to the believers in Philippi. Paul regarded death as “gain” because it meant departing from this life to be with his Savior. His love for Jesus superseded his earthly desires to the point where he would gladly embrace execution if that was next in God’s plan for him, since he would then be with Jesus.
This made me wonder if the issue with many millennials is not one of value. While many claim to possess a biblical faith, the things of this world have a stronger allure for them. They have not yet learned to value eternity above their current lives as Paul practiced and also wrote about in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. The things we see are temporal; focusing on them keeps us bound to this world rather than eternity. Without the perspective of Romans 8:18, it’s easy to look to this life alone for satisfaction. Even as a young pastor who loved to preach about prophecy, I did exactly that.
As we walk with the Lord and study His Word, the value of the things we cherish in this life grows dimmer as we compare them to the unlimited joy before us in eternity.
- Meditate on Eternity
This brings me to the next step in keeping a balance between this life and eternity; we need to focus our minds on what the Bible tells us about the joy set before us after Jesus comes for us.
The rapture is when Jesus takes us back to His Father’s house, to the place He is now preparing for each one of us (John 14:1-3). As Ruth and I thought about our new home, we kept in mind that our place in heaven will be far, far better. How could it even compare? If Jesus came before we moved, we wouldn’t experience even the slightest disappointment.
Once Jesus takes us to be with Him, we will never regret His timing or feel sad at losing out on anything this current world has to offer.
We will experience perfect wholeness in new bodies that will never grow old or perish. We will later reign with Christ in His glorious kingdom on earth and never again feel sorrow or pain (see Rev. 20:4; 21:4). Imagine a time of total and perfect health physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Imagine an existence where death simply does not exist!
I believe a key factor in the loss of interest in prophecy for true believers, whether young or old, is a lack of understanding of what we will experience once Jesus comes for us. Pastors rarely if ever talk about it, and millennials in particular rely more in what they see in social media than the Bible. It’s hard to be excited about a place where one envisions sitting on clouds and playing a harp, or perhaps squirming on a hard pew during a never-ending worship service.
In many churches, sermons emphasize your best life now to the exclusion of eternity. Even preachers who denounce Joel Osteen talk solely about Christian living in the here and now, and never mention the wonders of heaven or the joy of reigning with Christ upon the earth. How can we feel excitement about prophecy when all we hear are vague and nondescript references to eternal life?
As followers of Jesus, a joyous, wondrous, and glorious future awaits us, one that will far surpass the best this world has to offer.
We will be home; we will forever rejoice in what Christ has for us and praise Him for all He did to bring us home.
Jonathan C. Brentner