Life and Death

Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.
1Thessalonians 5:10, NLT*

I was raised in the Christian faith. For all the things I was slow to learn, or am still learning, this one thing I believed from childhood: Jesus’ death on the Cross meant I could go to Heaven when I died.

No wondering if I’d be “good enough to make it.” Somehow I grasped early on that it wasn’t about earning a place, but about accepting the invitation.

Because I was sure of my ultimate destination, when circumstances felt painful or overwhelming, I saw Heaven as the ultimate escape. I’m glad God also gave me a strong sense that life was His alone to give and take.

The Apostle Paul said, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” (Philippians 1:21, NLT*) He wasn’t indulging in a self-absorbed death-wish. He was giving his all to the Lord each day, knowing there was a reward at the end of the race.

The assurance of eternity with Jesus means that whatever we’re living now, there’s something better coming. Pain will be wiped away. So, too, will our present treasures, so let’s not hoard them.

Jesus is the only way to Heaven. We can’t force others to choose Him, but we can pray persistently and we can surrender our lives fully to Him so that they’ll see the difference He makes. We can obey Him when He tells us how to love them.

How do we practice now for eternity? Consciously spending time with God today – each day – will make all the difference. Quiet moments in prayer, reading the Bible (His love letter to us), learning to rest in His presence while we work or play… it’s not easy to retrain our spirits to check in with Him regularly, but it’s a worthwhile goal. And it’s the sort of prayer He’d love to answer.

God our Father, Jesus our Saviour, Holy Spirit our Sustainer, how can we thank You for saving us from eternal separation from Your love? Give us a healthy longing for Heaven, and give us a stronger longing for Your presence with us each moment of our days on earth. Work in us so that others will catch glimpses of You. Work through us to show mercy and compassion and to break chains and barriers.

There are some beautiful songs anticipating Heaven, but instead of choosing something from my “requiem” playlist, I leave us with this challenge from Matt Maher‘s album, Saints and Sinners: “Firelight.” The opening may not seem to match this post, but I hope you’ll listen through the instrumental break and to the end. May we put our remaining days here to good use.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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