Over the past year I’ve thought a great deal about the brevity of life when it is considered in the context of eternity. I’ve pondered this so often, in fact, I’ve begun thinking of my current mental preoccupation as a sort of mid-life crisis. I’ve felt God impressing this idea–of our temporal life being a precious drop in the bucket of time–upon me more and more, and I haven’t known quite what to do with the emotions and the thoughts that have surfaced. I wouldn’t call them negative or depressing; I’d describe them as mysterious, pulsing, non-yet-solidified. I suppose I should have realized before now that God was indeed taking me somewhere in the heavy yet gentle way only He operates. (Oh, how I love Him…)
Several days ago, I decided to pick up C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I must confess something here: I’ve been a Lewis fan for a long time; I would live in Narnia if I could, and I’ve never read a Lewis quote that didn’t strike some chord within me. However, I had never read this book, which is arguably one of his most important works. It was when I began reading this masterpiece that I began to piece together, rather rapidly, what God is teaching me about this terrestrial life: how quickly it’s over and–quite frankly–the point of it all.
Many self-proclaimed Christians seem to have the attitude that conversion is the peak event of this life, and then the rest of it is spent doing the best they can to live a “good” life free from the common vices of our day. They think of life on this broken earth as something to endure as well as possible–a feat they consider best accomplished by seeking one permissible pleasure after another: vacations, social activities, the next box office hit, or maybe just the next installment of a favorite television show.
Basically, many live according to the perpetual subconscious question, “What is the next thing that will bring me a moment of pleasure?”
But what if…
…what if more of us lived according to a very different question: “What is the next important thing I’m going to learn?”
HERE’S WHAT I AM COMING TO UNDERSTAND…
This is not just a life to be tolerated until we reach our eternal resting place. This is our single, fleeting opportunity to prepare ourselves for the day when we step out of these Shadowlands and into direct fellowship with God; everything we allow Him to build and nurture within us here will come to ultimate fruition and purposefulness in Heaven. A sobering thought, is it not?
My favorite analogy is that of a soldier being honed by battle after battle with the Enemy. Lewis says,
Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage…He wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim.
Through temporal life, the soldier is consciously and intentionally growing wiser and more competent; when he finally presents himself to his beloved King, he will be sublimely outfitted for a purposeful place in the eternal Kingdom. Lewis continues:
…it is quite true that there will probably be no occasion for just or courageous acts in the next world, but there will be every occasion for being the sort of people that we can become only as the result of doing such acts here.
We live at a very special point in man’s history. We can stand on the shoulders of great Christian men and women who have much to teach us if we will but read and study their legacy. God has raised up great theologians, apologists, philosophers, writers, and artists to steer and inspire us, if we will only take notice. It boils down to how we choose to dedicate our time and energy.
I implore you, as my brothers and sisters in Christ: Learn about our faith. Understand the history of Christianity, the essential doctrines, and the historical and scientific support for the reliability of our Scripture. Open your mind and heart to what the Spirit wants to teach you. Use these lessons to recruit and help train fellow soldiers. We are preparing for the Kingdom to come!
Of course we look forward to the day of Christ’s return; many ask why He tarries. But I ask: why aren’t more of us taking advantage of this time?
…there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live forever.