|Photo by Laurie Collett 2017|
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Ephemeral or Eternal?
On our recent trip to Ireland, one of the major highlights was the majestic Cliffs of Moher, an amazingly beautiful display of God’s handiwork (Psalm 19:1). Each new vista of rock formations abutting the azure sea was more breathtaking than the previous panorama. Yet I was also struck by the sporadic handfuls of wildflowers dotting the cliff faces, springing up defiantly from crevices in the limestone.
God only knows how they got there, thriving luxuriantly where there seemed to be no soil or water to nourish them. He provides for lilies of the field and clothes them in greater splendor than the richest kings (Matthew 6:28-33), even though they will soon fade and wither away, leaving no trace of their former beauty (Isaiah 40:7; James 1:11).
On the other hand, the cliffs seem eternal, immovable, unchanging, as Christians should be in their service to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:58). Yet God’s Word tells us that the earth and even its elements will burn up with a fervent heat, so that He can renovate all in preparation for new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:10-12; Isaiah 65:17; 66:22). Only God (Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 1:8), His Word (Isaiah 40:8), and man’s eternal soul will never pass away.
Every human being will live forever. Those who have trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) will have eternal life in Heaven with Him and with their loved ones who have trusted Him as their Lord and Savior (John 3:16; 14:1-3).
But those who pass into eternity rejecting Him will also live forever, but not in Heaven. Their fate is eternal torment, as intense as the searing heat of a fresh burn, yet one that never abates (Jude 1:7; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
Our life here is but a vapor, just a few days, and so short that we are not promised tomorrow (Job 14:1; James 4:14). May those who do not yet know Him trust Him before that door slams shut, and may those of us who trust Him have boldness and wisdom to witness to them of His infinite love (1 John 4:8) and saving grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
While we are here on earth, He will never leave nor forsake His children (Hebrews 13:5), and He will always provide for our physical needs (Psalm 37:25). Our Creator cares for even the weeds, nourishing them against all odds on a barren cliff, and without their having to work to clothe themselves (Matthew 6:28-33). He cares for the birds of the air (Matthew 10:29-31), and does He not care even more for each of us?
So why do we fret over our daily needs, and concern ourselves with the ephemeral, earthly cares and pleasures that vanish as quickly as the breath before our lips on a cold day? Should we not instead concern ourselves with the eternal? May we lay up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), which no one can steal from us and which nothing can destroy, and which we shall enjoy eternally!
The apostle Paul tells us that the good works we did with the right motive for the kingdom of God will emerge from His judgment fire more refined and pure, like gold, silver and precious stones, and that He will reward us for these. But those things we did grudgingly, or for money, pride, or for the praise of others, will burn up like wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
This week we were reminded once again of the transience of our human existence, as two elderly sisters in Christ went home to be with the Lord. Their lives, like those of any of us, were ephemeral, yet their legacy of faithfulness is eternal. Despite enduring nearly constant hardships involving physical health, family, and finances, they were faithful to be in church whenever the doors were open and to serve to the best of their ability (1 Corinthians 4:2).
I can imagine Jesus Himself welcoming them with open arms and greeting them with “Well done, thou good and faithful servant – enter now into the joy of your Lord!” (Matthew 25:21, 23) That joy will last forever, and I believe will begin with having Jesus tell them of all the children they taught in Sunday School who since were saved, for they had planted the seed of His Word (Luke 8:5-15) and His love in their hearts!
In this life they had very little that the world would envy. Yet they had the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and joy in their salvation (Psalm 51:12; Isaiah 61:10) that transcended all physical circumstances, and which are inaccessible until we are born again (John 3:3-8).
May those of us they left behind be inspired to follow their example, to serve joyfully and faithfully, and to work for eternal rewards, not ephemeral pleasures!