Several years ago a friend told me, “The movie, Chronicles of Narnia is really great! You would love it.” I considered going but then learned that Aslan, the great lion and main character, is killed in the film. Nope, I thought. Couldn’t stand watching that. Would hurt my heart. Sometime later, I learned that Aslan comes back to life so I decided I could handle watching since I knew the story ends well.
Having an eternal perspective and keeping one’s hope firmly fixed on the promise of heaven is like watching a movie with a mess in the middle. With our gaze turned toward eternity, we can endure life’s messy difficulties because we know Christ will return, we will go home to heaven, all of our tears will be wiped away (Revelation 21:4)—and our story will end very, very well.
While Paul was in prison, he rejoiced. He didn’t rejoice because he knew he would be released or that his earthly circumstances would turn out in his favor. He rejoiced because Christ was his prize. He rejoiced because he had an eternal perspective which sustained him through daily life.
Maybe like me, you have often heard about the heroes in Hebrews 11 whose faith led to rewards and great acts while alive. They shut the mouths of lions, escaped the edge of the sword, and became powerful in battle—among many other wonderful things. But maybe like me, you haven’t heard much about another group mentioned at the very end of the chapter. This group was able to endure messes in the middle of their lives because they steadfastly held onto an eternal perspective (Hebrews 11:16). These folks faced jeers and flogging, were imprisoned, sawed in two, and put to death. They were destitute, homeless, and hungry. But they endured because they knew that this world was not their home. They knew their story would end very well, too.
When I think about what Paul and these saints in Hebrews 11 endured, I have to admit that my faith seems small. I am often more concerned about my comfort than I am about persevering through a trial. But there have been times when keeping my eyes on heaven has helped me hold onto hope in the middle of my own messy story. It has enabled me to endure relational heartbreak, physical fatigue, financial difficulties, and just the day-in, day-out challenges of life. And, I am happy to say that as I get closer to going home, it’s becoming easier to keep my gaze turned upward.
What about you? Will you keep your heart turned toward eternity today? My prayer is that as you remember that you are just passing through this life on the way to your residence in glory that you’ll find greater courage to endure your own messy middle.