I’ll have to admit that it’s challenging to live each day like I’m earnestly focused on attaining heaven. Do I want to make it past the pearly gates? Yes. But do I live every day with my eyes focused on it, on answering the call of Christ, to follow Him on earth and then be with Him for all eternity? I have to say that isn’t always the case.
And I’m sure many of you can empathize. We want the fruits of this promise, to reap the joys of eternal paradise, and praise the God almighty for His goodness forever. But – it’s so easy to become caught up in our worldly ways, with this ambition often put on the backburner, or set aside as a task and focus for another day.
I was at a praise and worship gathering one evening where a keynote speaker offered an example of eternal life that I’ll never forget. He took a long piece of string (around 25-ft. long), holding one end of it and having another person stretching the remaining string across the stage. He then pointed to one little piece of the string and said, “This. This is you and me right here. This tiny piece of the string is our 80, 90 years on earth, our whole lives. Now take a look at the entire string, stretching far beyond, and never-ending. This, this is eternity in heaven.”
I’m a visual person, and I was blown away by this image. We, of course, hear how more important it is to focus on eternal life because the life we are living is temporary and short in the grand scheme of things. But, when I beheld a real example of that reality, it struck me. Why would I ever focus so much energy and stress on that little speck of string, while leaving the long, never-ending piece less attended to?
Well, in my human nature, I forget quite easily, actually. When I wake up in the morning, I try to pray and focus on being attentive to God, but in reality, the more urgent desire in the back of my mind/tummy is my morning brew of coffee. Then, as the day presses on, I’m focused on my daily responsibilities, checklist, work, dog, chores, boyfriend, meals, to the point that the day is almost over, and we’re onto a new cycle the next day. Those few days eventually turn into weeks, months, and years, and before you know it, decades of life have passed by where I’ve lived for my urgent now instead of my forever with God. Doesn’t that just seem a little backward?
It’s kind of funny, really. I consider myself a fairly astute, reasonable sort of person. I’d say I have a pretty good head on my shoulders. But, it’s easy for me to lose sight of the point of it all: God created me to love Him, know Him, serve Him. Why? So that I could live in eternal paradise with Him forevermore.
And it’s these crazy times we live in that remind me of that long string. This delicate life isn’t that long. Tomorrow is a guarantee for no one. Am I living my present “heaven-ready?”
It can be challenging to have a steady and enthusiastic fervor for the next life. We can be pretty fickle human beings. We get excited about something, develop definite plans and measures to reach our goals, and then all kinds of things (instant gratification, the next exciting thing, laziness, apathy, etc.) can weasel in and tear us from our pursuits.
Messages from the saints and Scripture can help us keep our desire and pursuit of heaven a fervent one at our constant forefront.
Let us sing alleluia here on earth, while we still live in anxiety, so that we may sing it one day in heaven in full security.”St. Augustine of Hippo
In the moment of temptation think of the Love that awaits you in heaven: foster the virtue of hope.”St Josemaria Escriva
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”Revelation 21:4
I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom. This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures.”St. Faustina
Earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”St. Thomas More
In heaven, the soul is certain that she loves God, and that he loves her. She sees that the Lord embraces her with infinite love, and that this love will not be dissolved for all eternity.”St. Alphonsus Liguori
One of my favorite Catholic philosophers, Peter Kreeft, also shares how heaven will never be boring. That is because we will be with God, who is infinite, and will “never come to the end of exploring Him. He is new every day.” Can you imagine that?
Imagine you just started dating someone you were wildly smitten by. Everything you learned of him or her made you fall deeper and deeper, leaving you totally enamored. But then, the next day, you experienced the same exhilarating excitement, joy, and love.
There will be no boredom, because we will be forever exploring and all consumed by a God who loves us, who we love, with no time passing.
And I think Mr. Kreeft gets it right when he says, “the only people who are never bored are lovers.”
You and I, friend, have much to anticipate in the joys of heaven.
It is hard, though, to remember every day that my purpose is eternity, and so there should my heart be. So, let us remind one another. Let us love so as to remind those around us of the source of our love. Let us live in joyful hope so that despite the weary world around us, onlookers can see that we are looking beyond to an everlasting more.