by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
“I do not believe it to be a matter of hope… it’s simply a matter of time.” —from the movie, The Matrix, Reloaded: Morpheus describing the certainty of victory because of who is on their side
I asked a client of mine at the prison I work at on his birthday how young he was. “Young, I turned 47 today.” Since he is a believer in recovery I asked him, “Where do you see yourself ten years from now? Where do you see yourself 1000 years from now? Ever wonder how young you’ll look… how good you’ll look?” He loved that.
What is the end game for those who stay the course of recovery, laying down selfish desires and pursuits to instant gratification, to pursue fulfilling satisfaction in the perfect will of God? Well for one thing, the “game” doesn’t end. It just becomes a lot more fun. In relationship with Jesus is resurrection from the old life into the new life at the present time. The Bible says that the Kingdom of God is near and at hand. We live today in the kingdom age of glorious grace as citizens of heaven. The light of the new day is upon us. It’s merely a matter of time before we dance on streets of gold in the new earth. Humility is the key to living out recovery from an eternal kingdom point of view while looking forward to celebrating our recovery forever.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6
I recently attended the funeral service for a 16-year-old girl named Jenna. For the last five and a half years of her life, Jenna suffered from T-Cell Lymphoma, a cancer that attacks white blood cells and destroys major organs in the body. In Jenna’s case her lungs were under siege from this deadly disease. By the end, after numerous procedures she would wear a breathing apparatus that looked like something that Darth Vader (Star Wars) would wear just to survive another day.
Jenna had an opportunity for a lung transplant but it came with big time risk. Jenna’s body rejected the new lungs and she died, entering the presence of the Lord. What was amazing at this funeral were the songs Jenna wrote only months before she left her severely flawed existence for the glory of Heaven; a destination she was certain of. She wrote with bated anticipation as if she had been given a glimpse into her eternity in relationship with Jesus. In her song, “What I Found”, Jenna wrote to Jesus in the first person asking Him to wait for her while she sought Him out. But then it was as though she understood that Jesus would be seeking her out so she promised Him that she would wait for Him to find her.
While she had hoped that her knew lungs would work out, that was something she could only speculate. What she knew to be as sure and real as the words on this page was that it was only a matter of time before she would be in the literal presence of her Lord Jesus. Jenna took peace in that. All who knew and loved her knew her peace to be genuine. She was already enjoying a sweet fellowship with Jesus as though she was invited to a unique spiritual place perhaps reserved for someone as near to eternity as she was.
What are you sure about?
Be sure about this… Your recovery is not in vain! Jesus Christ is alive, and at the end of the day, is preparing a celebration of literally heavenly proportion. Paul viewed his recovery from sin as an upward calling to experience the unspeakable joy of heaven in the presence of Jesus himself. “Upward calling” means that his purpose is to do the will of God in order to please him, knowing that his reward is heavenly and beyond his comprehension. This is definitely a spiritual concept on how to function from day to day. He saw doing the will of God in all of his activities as unto his upward calling.
Paul would do whatever it took to fulfill the will of God for the ultimate prize.
“I press on, that I may lay hold of that since Christ Jesus has already laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not consider myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:11-14 (NKJV)
Paul’s daily goal was eternal fellowship in heaven with Jesus. It is his eternal objective that motivates him in recovery, driving him in his pursuit to will and to do the will of God, empowered by God. Paul believed the teachings and promises of Jesus and did cling to them. Jesus promised he would be preparing a place for us beyond our wildest imaginations.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you, who believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And where I am going you know, and the way you know.” Then Thomas said to Him, “Lord we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:1-6 (NKJV)
The more we discover who Jesus is in our recovery from a life of addictive sin, the less Scriptures like this are a mystery to our ears. As we grow in knowledge and experience, we become more mature spiritually and are able grasp the truths of the Bible, the Word of God written specifically for you and for me. The more we more fully understand who we are in the new resurrection age of grace, the more we are content with our everyday lives as a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Revelation of this truth of who we are today as citizens of heaven—now, today—the more we can be at peace with our past, present, and future. We no longer live in an age of darkness, but rather we walk in the light. When this revelation is truly alive in your heart, you cannot help but shine your light brightly wherever you are and wherever you go.
We can apprehend the vision of eternal life in heaven with the fellowship of one another as one genuinely happy family. Heaven is the package enveloping the prize. The prize is Jesus, face to face, heart to heart, soul to soul. The treasures of heaven will not be exhausted, the Bible says (Luke 12:33). In fact, the Bible tells us that when we are committed to the will of God as our reasonable service to him, we are storing up treasures in heaven even now in this lifetime. Jesus explains that if it is our purpose to store up treasures on earth—material wealth, toys, and selfish ambitions—that they do not transfer into heaven’s economy. As you have heard it said, “You can’t take it with you.”
“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:29-34 (NLT)
The more you grow in your recovery the more this makes sense as the most profitable way to live. We have so much to look forward to living in the truth. When we were lost in addiction, all we could see was what was right in front of us—instant gratification. When we are committed to our recovery, the blinders come off as we do what Paul did, forgetting what is behind (or as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6, “what we were”) and moving forward and upward, answering the call of God, and driven to overcome and to do the will of God so as to attain the prize of heaven and all that heaven is—fulfilling satisfaction.
Look at what Jesus said to His disciple John in the book of Revelation.
“Behold, the tabernacle (dwelling place) of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and He shall be My son.” Revelation 21:3-7 (NKJV)
How’s that for a promise to all who have overcome their thirst for the things of the world and faithfully put their trust in him, the one who quenches our thirst with what Jesus calls “living water”? At the end of the day (dwelling in the former age of darkness as a vessel of light), we get to enjoy being in the presence of God himself as his sons and daughters. Wow! I cannot even begin to comprehend what Jesus means when he says that we who have overcome will inherit all things as God’s kids in direct fellowship with him. Jesus is talking about heaven at his level. While at best I can only imagine, I am convinced that my wildest imaginations pale in comparison to the heavenly reality he is talking about.
What else did Jesus say about heaven?
The twelve gates of the city were twelve pearls; each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (referring to Jesus) are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. Revelation 21:21-23 (NKJV)
This brief description of what heaven looks like gives me chills. This is exciting! It’s no wonder our worldly treasures are useless there when the streets of God’s neighborhood are pure gold. Can you imagine what your home (your mansion) is going to look like? Our bodies will be changed into something glorious. The Bible says that.
It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 (NLT)
I cannot really know what that means, since my finite brain does not comprehend it, except that we are different and better to the point that the Bible says we can behold the glory of Christ himself in all of his glory. I do not know how I will appear in glory (heaven). Nor can I imagine what you will look like. All I know for sure is that I won’t be old. My eye sight will be perfect. I won’t be plugged up with sinus congestion as is the case with me. There will be no sickness. There will be no pain. There will be no weakness. My body will be strong. I will live forever in my prime in glory. How exciting is that?
When Paul spoke of pressing on to reach the goal to attain the prize, this is the kind of reality he was talking about. He admitted that recovery is not easy. Paul, like Jesus, worked his ABC recovery steps each and every day. The Bible tells us, though, that our human existence is merely temporary, and this life we’re in with all of its complexities and difficulties is but a blip in the context of our eternal life in heaven with Jesus Christ and the entire family of God.
But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles or causes an abomination or lie, but only those who are written into the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:27 (NKJV)
The Bible also tells us that heaven cannot be defiled; therefore, only those purged of their addictive sin can enter into it. We are purged of addictive sin since we were crucified with Christ; our sin condemned with Christ during the three days he endured for our freedom. This makes sense. Otherwise, heaven would not be any more or better than what we have in the world right now, and look what is going on in the world now: disease, poverty, homelessness, starvation, jealousy, depression, stress and worry, depravity, greed, dictatorship, fighting and war. The war of the world we live in will be defeated. The enemies of God will be destroyed.
What about our enemy, Satan, who continually baits us into sinking further into our addictive mess? What happens to the one who accuses us before God as being worthless and unfaithful, and ridicules us before God as not fit to receive his grace? What happens to our enemy, who has convinced so many to reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and to pursue their life of addictive sin until it killed them?
Check it out.
Then I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of the brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:10-11 (NKJV)
Can you guess who “they” is in this passage? “They” is all of us victorious in recovery over addiction to our self-centeredness. What these verses say for us is that when total recovery (meaning salvation) has come as we are resurrected into the presence of Jesus Christ our King, we will return with him to defeat our accuser once and for all. Because we did not believe the lies of the enemy and the spirit of addiction, having embraced the sacrifice of Christ’s blood on the cross, we are victorious over addiction. We defeat the enemy. It’s not even close, folks. It’s a slaughter.
Recovery is so worth it. Freedom is worth it. Experiencing God’s glory is worth it. Choose recovery!
At the end of the day comes the reward for a lifetime of recovery that cannot be measured in human terms. The reward is an eternity literally in the presence of our Sympathetic Savior, Jesus Christ. As we take his gift of recovery, and invest it in a lifestyle committed to doing the will of God, it is only a matter of time before Jesus himself tells you and tells me,
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)
“Well done” are two of the most precious words we will ever hear. These words are the gateway to eternal fellowship with our Lord Jesus. We will celebrate for eternity a life of recovery in relationship with our Savior. We will all be together in the glory of heaven. At the end of the day we experience the best day of our life in heaven with Christ, and with each other. What a day that will be. This is not a dream. It is real. It is our hope. But it is not merely a matter of hope, but in fact, a matter of time. It is a promise that is absolutely certain. Do you believe it?
In the Matrix movie, Morpheus had faith in Neo to have the power and authority to end the struggle of the people because he believed in what he knew to be true of Neo. He knew for a fact that Neo had the power and authority to overcome the enemy and win the battle once and for all. That is why, when the governor replied to Morpheus about Neo’s capability, “Let’s hope so”, Morpheus responded with the fulfillment of the promise: “It’s not a matter of hope…it’s simply a matter of time.”
In Jesus Christ we have already won the battle over ‘me’dom and all adversity. Jesus knew at the cross when he said, “It is accomplished” that he had, through his sacrifice and resurrection, defeated death. The victory in recovery is ours through relationship with Christ. Soon, we will see Jesus face to face and all will be revealed.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. I Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)
We will know him fully. I’m not sure I can fully appreciate this until I actually lay eyes on him. We will touch his nail-scarred hands and experience the warmth of his embrace while resting in his arms throughout our eternal destiny. We will look into his eyes as we talk to him. Better yet Jesus Christ will look into your eyes and mine with the same compassion he had for his disciples. He will have the same look of love in his eyes that he had for everyone he encountered and touched on earth as he looks into our eyes and touches us. The day is coming; maybe sooner than you think. What a day that is to look forward to.
I can’t wait! It‘s simply a matter of time.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)