Can you see the forest for the trees?
Give me a word – give me a sign
Show me where to look – tell me what will I find?
Lay me on the ground and fly me in the sky
Show me where to look – tell me what will I find?
Love is in the water – love is in the air
Show me where to look – tell me will love be there? (Will love be there?)
Teach me how to speak – teach me how to share
Teach me where to go – tell me will love be there? (Will love be there?)
Oh – Heaven, let your light shine down
Oh – Heaven, let your light shine down
I’m gonna let it shine – I’m gonna let it shine
Heaven, let your light shine on me
Heaven, let your light shine on me
Come on and shine
When we’ve been here ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
then when we’ve first begun.
by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
You might be asked in a job interview,
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?”
I would like to ask the bigger picture question:
Where do you see yourself in a thousand years?
What do you see yourself doing ten thousand years from now?
With all of the conversation these days about being in the last days until the return of Jesus Christ for His bride, there seems to be a focus on tribulation and if and when the rapture of the church will occur. This has not been lost on the secular world either with talk of predictions and prophecies concerning the end of the world by way of terrorists and religious extremists, military conquest, and economic collapse of superpower countries. Television programs have surfaced featuring people preparing for doomsday scenarios. Like the doomsday preppers, evangelical Christians in some circles have also become consumed with preparing for tribulation times. This preoccupation with end times has even had a divisive impact on families and friends.
The purpose of “What Is Your Ten-Thousand Year Plan” is to attempt to redirect the emphasis ahead to what is waiting for all those who are looking forward to that which is on the other side of this eternal age. Through what I hope is effective use of Scripture, I hope bring attention to what is written about the eternal celebration of being in fellowship with Jesus for at least the next ten thousand years and beyond.
I have clients at the prison who have returned to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. They often experience a new-found freedom even while behind prison walls. Part of their sense of freedom behind bars is that they tend to take on an eternal perspective about life that lends itself to having very positive feelings even though they may have months and even years left to serve before being released into freedom from their captivity.
I have asked my believing clients the questions above when they were having a really rough time, when say a loved one died. It’s a distressing, depressing time in the experience of an incarcerated man. Some of these believing offenders have lost their sons to gang violence. No matter what horrific thing the prisoner might have done to warrant imprisonment, it doesn’t make the pain of loss any less painful. It doesn’t lighten the weight of a heavy heart.
I will ask, “Where do you see yourself in a year… five years… ten years… a thousand years… ten thousand years?”
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:1-3 (NLT)
It can be amazing the sudden change in their countenance as they light up when considering their future in the glorious presence of God for eternity. Their eyes get big and there is a grin, whether obvious or subtle. They don’t see themselves in their prison blues. They are not walking around with a rap sheet. They are not burdened with guilt, isolated by shame, labeled by failure, and/or paralyzed with fear. They were humbled by their experience in this life (aeon, age), and get to anticipate the fullness of freedom for eternity in the presence of the Savior who rescued them from the peril of prison and the lifestyle that directed them to such a place. The prospect of eternity is liberating to them. They tend to be less distracted by life’s indulgences since they are not accessible to them.
Eager citizens of heaven
I share that with you because, in all honesty, it puts me to shame what I take for granted each and every day in my relationship with the Savior who desires to restore me into peace, joy, and rest by way of His love for me. My perspective tends to be entrenched in the ups and downs of this age. I tell you though, when things get intense, though I will worry with anxiety for a time, it is comforting to rest in the assurance of my salvation as a citizen of heaven.
They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Philippians 3:19-21 (NLT)
The Apostle draws a clear distinction between us (“we”) and them (“they”) in his letter to the church at Philippi. He writes that we as citizens of heaven alive to the age of resurrection, see life and the world from an eternal perspective with an appetite for the joy and the peace found in the best of relationship with Jesus, while they live life according to the appetite found in the carnal desires of the flesh in this age of self-centered instant but temporary gratification with its own eternal consequences.
But afterward Jesus found him… and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” John 5:14 (NLT)
What if you lived each day eagerly awaiting the return of your Savior? What difference would it make in your approach to how you live today? Where do you see yourself in a thousand years? Do you see yourself reigning on the earth in your renewed glorified body with Jesus? What do you see yourself doing ten thousand years from now? Can you imagine it?
So what actually lies ahead for us in this age of resurrection that Scripture declares we live in today as citizens of heaven? What might actually occur as we pass from our earthly place into our heavenly place? Putting it simply, what happens when we die?
19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’
25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’
27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31 (NLT)
This is from the words of Jesus himself speaking on the subject of eternity. We can see from this passage that there is activity in the “afterlife” at a time that there is still life on earth prior to final judgment. So it would seem that Scripture referring to the dead as “asleep” and “sleeping” is perhaps suggesting that sleeping is how it appears from an earthly perspective since the bodies of the dead are in the ground. However in actuality, to be away from this earthly body is to be clothed in something new and wonderful, present and at home with Jesus.
1 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 (NLT)
So when exactly do we receive our new clothing; our new body?
35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.
42 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. 43 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. 44 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 15:35-44 (NLT)
Well it’s all a lot less complicated after reading all that. How did we arrive at this place of dying into new life? How can we know?
12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. 1 Corinthians 15:12-23 (NLT)
I believe these assurances from Scripture. I do not fear death, but truth be told, I do fear dying; the pain and misery of the experience of dying. I imagine that in that moment when I sense my life on earth is eluding me that I will be frightened in my dying by what I have not known by experience that awaits me on the other side of my resurrection into new life. If I die before my wife does, I will miss her. If she dies before I do, I will miss her. I will miss my family most.
Love in the time of perfection
What is on that side of eternity; the heaven side in glory?
Scripture is clear that in the fullness of eternal resurrection, I will experience family like never before with my eternal heavenly family. I will know by experience love beyond measure; love that transcends even that of a husband and wife, parent and child, brothers and sisters, and best of friends. If I could comprehend that in my temporal human mind, I would rejoice at the prospect of such an experience, and take comfort in the assurance that upon my death I am truly in a better place.
Though I don’t have Scripture to support it, I’d like to believe that my father, grandparents, and so many others who have gone ahead of me into whatever paradise is in the presence of the Savior; that they are at work already interceding in love, earnestly praying for me. That just makes so much sense to me. They don’t have the temptations, distortions, obstructions, selfish motivations, or anything else to interfere with the purpose of kingdom building.
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. 5 It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13 (NLT)
Wow, wow… and WOW!
How is that for perspective? “When I was a child?” is what I am in my imperfect flesh, not seeing clearly my eternal self, but rather seeing “puzzling reflections” with partial, incomplete comprehension of the next ten thousand years and beyond. “But when I grow up…” on the perfect side of resurrection, I will see everything with perfect clarity, knowing by experience everything completely; seeing and knowing as God sees and knows.
What will be perfect when the perfect age of resurrection is fully realized? Everything! And the foundation of perfection is the love found in the person of Jesus Christ. Perfect has already come twice before in the person of Jesus; once born from a virgin, and the other reborn through resurrection from the grave. When Paul refers to the time of perfection coming this third time, all people in relationship with Jesus will fully realize perfection in every way in relationship with perfection; in the experience of perfect love; where there is no fear of judgment, punishment, or consequence. To paraphrase a line from John Eldridge, we will get to live in the reward and privilege of being fully alive in the glory of God.
All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. 1 John 4:15-17 (NLT)
Are you seeing more clearly the forest for the trees?
Continue reading clicking here for Part Two.