Eternity begins now for the believer. In heaven, we shall spend all our moments being filled and growing in our love, knowledge, admiration, understanding, joy and happiness in God. This joy will be an infinite expanse into eternity. But for the believer, this eternity has already begun, ever-increasing joy is not simply a future hope, but a present reality. So why must so many Christians (or so they are called) postpone this activity till after death? Do you not know that access to the divine has been granted? To the young man who says “I will begin with prayer tomorrow night, for I am far too tired to utter words of coherence”, I respond “Dear son, you pass up on gaining treasures each moment you lay something before communion with God. So then, roll yourself off your bed and onto your knees and begin your sweet drinking of the divine joy”.
It now makes sense why Christ declares “If anyone loses his life for My sake, he shall save it”. To have Christ in fullness demands emptying of self in completeness, for to be filled with the infinitely pure, the infinitely defiled must be cleaned out. This is where many believers (or so they are called) stop. They want joy, they want peace, they want happiness. But they do not want the cost. The road in front is strewn with “death to self” signs, and here lies man’s greatest fear and greatest obstacle to the road to joy.
If to but have just one more moment with Christ in this life, then each moment the better in heaven. As Paul speaks for us in Philippians 3 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… that I may know him…” May we say in one accord with Paul “… by any means possible…” (Phil 3:11). By any means possible, I will strain, I will strive, I will fight, I will run, I will remain true, in order that I may gain the prize of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. May we say in one accord “Lord, use whatever means possible to strip me of ‘self’ and fill me with Christ.”
The means primarily used by God are sufferings, trials, temptations and the like. God is not one (or rarely at that) to fill our lives with abundant earthly treasures to magnify Christ in us. The reason for this is that these earthly blessings are perilous when in view of the carnal flesh. They strip away trust in God and our investments become to uphold such mansions and our trust centralizes itself on the joy that these earthly blessings bring and not the heavenly ones. So then, whatever it is that will purge from us this hope in earthly things, may we be those who ask God to use them. Fear, Christian, for these means are not of the fainthearted. To pray for Christ to be exalted in your life is no prayer of trifling or mere passing by.
Do not be content with simple strivings, for infinite joy is at stake. If you say “since it will happen in the future regardless of my endeavors now, my pursuit of it at this moment ultimately means very little if any difference whatsoever”. I say, then, that this shows how little, if at all, you have tasted of this infinite joy. Once this joy is truly digested, no man will ever turn himself back, it is impossible. No man who has had his palette wet with the drippings of the Lord’s grace would ever utter such words. It is our duty, then, to other professing believers to help them taste this joy. If we do not, we have not truly tasted as we yet claim.
There are times of wavering, when the desert becomes sweltering and the longings intense and the tastes are bitter. But do not let this confound or send you walking in another direction, for our Lord has promised us, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Do not be dismayed or troubled, let your attention again be fully devoted unto this pursuit, for no promise is more assured than those made by God, for “heaven and earth will pass away, but His words will not pass away”. They deserve our full trust and all faith, even if we never taste once again in this life of the wondrousness of the beauty of Christ. And we are promised yet again that “the one who endures to the end will be saved”.
I say then, run for your eternal joy, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.