The Ocean of Eternity

Description

Our hope in Christ rests in the future of an eternity spent in His glory.

The summer before my junior year of college, my brother and I took part in a summer beach project in Daytona Beach, Florida with a campus student ministry from our university. We were extremely excited about it for many reasons, but one of them was because–if you can believe it–neither of us had ever seen the ocean before.

We had visited my aunt and uncle on the Mississippi coast once when I was in middle school. They lived only a few blocks from the Gulf of Mexico but their town was so close to the mouth of the Mississippi River, I remember thinking that the Gulf water there looked a lot like the muddy brown river that ran behind our house back home. We had seen a real ocean only in pictures and on television. So, we were both very excited about the idea of spending the summer on the beach.

As we drove to Daytona Beach from Georgia, the further south we drove the greater our anticipation grew. Gradually, we watched the roadside soil change from the red clay of north Georgia to the sandy soil of south Georgia. As we got closer to Savannah, Spanish moss became a more common sight. Eventually, we noticed a few seagulls. Once we crossed into Florida, spotting a palm tree became commonplace. With each sign we were nearing the coast, our excitement grew.

We finally reached the exit for Daytona Beach and turned off I-95 onto a road that led over the Intracoastal Waterway and into the Daytona Beach strip. As we made our way over the tall, parabola-shaped bridge that crosses over the Intracoastal Waterway, we started to see the tops of the hotels along the beach. As we continued up the incline of the bridge, the rest of the strip gradually came into view. Our excitement finally reached its zenith as we crested the top of the bridge.

For a brief moment, the scene went into slow motion. We could suddenly see for miles in every direction. Hotels, water, and trees seemed to be the only things around. Then as I looked directly ahead, the realization of the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean washed over me. I had never seen anything so blue or unfathomably enormous in my life. The deep blue ocean seemed endless. It was nothing like television, and mere photos didn’t do it justice. It was beautiful. Suddenly, the realization that we were about to spend the summer living a stone’s throw from the water of the Atlantic seemed overwhelming.

I’ll never forget feeling almost choked by the realization of the immensity and beauty of the ocean.

For me, an eternity in Heaven is like the ocean. I often think, talk and write about eternity, but too often my perspective is more like that of seeing the ocean on TV: I know what it is but I’m not really caught up in its reality. But when I really stop to think about spending eternity with Jesus outside the encumbrances of time, it blows my mind.

My problem is that I often mistake “reality” for the physical things of this world. But consider what Paul said about the reality of this world vs. the one to come:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

There is a wealth of truth in those few verses but here is what I’m driving at: Jesus is our life. He is reality, and we must cultivate an eternal mindset around this one great truth. The life to come is more real than the screen you are reading now. It is more real than the chair you are sitting in. This present physical reality is just a vapor against the backdrop of eternity. It’s a drop of water in an ocean. Knowing this, our challenge becomes training ourselves to live for the ocean and not the drop.

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