Do you have a bucket list?  There certainly are many experiences I would like to have before I die.

I have always wanted to go on an archaeological dig in Israel.  But a lack of time and money has always held me back.  Same problem with all the places I would like to visit –  Rome, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, etc.  I have a bad case of “itchy feet,” inherited from my father (listening to his stories of travel during WWII and the Korean War).  I’d love to get a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies.  And write some books (I have tons of ideas).  And learn to ride horses, play a musical instrument . . .   and spend more time with my family.

We have limited time and energy, so we need to prioritize.  Family and work obligations demand large chunks of both.  And we all have other dreams and desires.  How should we make these decisions?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus discusses the danger of pursuing money and worrying about the necessities of life.  God knows we need food and clothes, so Jesus says to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33.  We need to invest in the right things.

What is the one thing that lasts forever? Opinions vary vastly.  A Google search returned about 222,000,000 results (in 0.34 seconds).  The best answer is God and people.

God created all of us with bodies and souls.  If a person trusts in Jesus, they will live in eternity with him, with a new spirit given by God.

The Bible says in I Peter 1:23-25:  For you [believers who have trusted in Jesus] have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.””

Those who refuse will be separated from him forever.  Those are serious consequences.

Our time here on earth is limited; our time with God in eternity is not.  What implications does that fact have on the way we should live our lives?

First, we must make a decision about who we think Jesus is, and respond to his “Limited Time Offer.”  If we don’t decide to trust him before we die, the default position is without him.

Second, if people last forever, with God or without him, then they are the most important things we can invest our lives in.

While we are on this earth, Jesus has given us his priority:  we need to win people to Christ.  Matthew 28:18-20 says:  18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Someday Jesus will return and this fantastic deal will expire.  Or you may die before his return so that you will no longer be able to tell the living about him.  So this mission is an extremely high priority!
God is not a kill-joy who expects us to work 24/7.  After all, he created the Sabbath so that we would have much-needed rest.  But we do need to keep our eyes on the goal.

A popular idea is that people become angels when they die.  You’ve probably seen the cartoons – the dearly departed living in the clouds, wearing a white robe, wings, and a halo, playing on a harp for eternity.  That isn’t what the Bible says.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.   He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” . . . The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  Revelation 21:1-5; 23-27.

God will restore the creation so that we can live with Him the way He originally intended.  We will enjoy God and His new creation, including work and using our God-given talents and abilities.

But God makes it clear that only those who trust in Him will experience this new life.  He is not going to force anyone to spend eternity with Him if they don’t want to.  Only two choices are possible –

So I have a Delayed Gratification list — or as I like to call it, “My Eternal List” —  things I would love to do now, but that I will postpone until I join God in the New Heaven and Earth.

Have you ever thought about where you will spend eternity?  Where do you want to spend it?

What do you think you will do there?

— But while I’m waiting, maybe I can get in a hot air balloon ride.

One thought on “Delayed Gratification

  1. Welcome back to the world of blogging, dear friend. Your words are always so full of truth. And I love the idea of an eternal bucket list. Most people have such a skewed view of what heaven is–thanks for the reminder that we’re not floating angels living on clouds!!!

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