Life is a struggle. The Lord, in His wisdom, has left us in a fallen world. But perhaps our struggles are not primarily about the brokenness that surrounds us. Could it be there is something we bring to each of these struggles that makes them harder to bear?
There is something often overlooked that has the power to alter the way you experience your life in this fallen world. If you're going to stay sane, thankful, motivated, and hopeful, you must live with your final destination in view. Only here will you be protected by the right values, balanced by proper expectations, and motivated by sturdy hope. Consider seven effects that functional eternity amnesia can have on your everyday life:
1. Living with unrealistic expectations
Why are our expectations unrealistic? Because we often suffer from an eternity amnesia that causes us to ask this present world to be what it simply will never be. We want our "here-and-now" lives to behave as if it's our final destination, when actually what we're experiencing is preparation for the destination to come.
2. Focusing too much on self
Human beings were created to live big-picture, long-view lives. We were created to live with something bigger motivating us than this moment's comforts, pleasures, and successes. Eternity confronts you with the fact that you're not in charge, that you don't live at the center of your life, and that what you've been called to moves by the will and purpose of the great eternal Lord. You see, eternity always confronts us with realities that transcend our momentary struggles, dreams, wants, feelings, and needs.
3. Asking too much of people
When we fail to live with our final destination in view, we'll unwittingly and consistently ask the people around us to provide the paradise that our hearts crave. The people around us don't have the ability to give us that constant inner peace and satisfaction that we'll only ever experience in eternity. Asking your spouse, children, pastor, or friend to give what they cannot give ends in disappointment, frustration, conflict, and division.
4. Being controlling or fearful
Why do we tend to swing from fear to control and back again? Because, in our eternity amnesia, we feel as if somehow, some way, life is passing us by. It's important to remember that our unfulfilled longings don't so much announce to us that this world has failed us, but that we were designed for another world. Peace in our present life is found only when we live with our final destination in view.
5. Questioning the goodness of God
Many of us are discouraged. Many of us are bitter. Many of us wonder why God has allowed our lives to be so hard. When you allow yourself to forget God's agenda, you'll begin to question his character. Unless we live with the daily knowledge that God's promises only reach their complete fulfillment in the world to come, we'll feel as if we've been hit with a cosmic bait and switch. The taste we get of God's good gifts in the here and now are meant to keep us hungering for the full meal that's waiting for us at our final destination
6. Living more disappointed than thankful
Unrealistic expectations always lead to disappointment. There are many Christians who are disappointed - not because God has failed them, or because they have suffered much, or the people around them have been particularly difficult. Rather, they have approached life hoping that it will deliver things that only come on the other side. Perhaps our disappointment reveals more about our eternity amnesia than it does about the life we have been called to live.
7. Lacking motivation and hope
All of these consequences of eternity amnesia work to weaken our motivation and hope. The reality is that this world is not an endless cycle of dashed hopes and dreams. No, we live in a world that is marching toward a moment when all that is broken will be forever restored. This fact can fill you with a reason to get up in the morning and press on even when life gets hard. Eternity confronts any thoughts of impossibility and futility by reminding me that what I'm experiencing is not permanent.
Perhaps our street-level eternity amnesia produces more angst in us as we go about our lives than we've tended to think. Have you forgotten who you are, where you now live, and the final destination that is yours by grace? Could it be that there are times when you live as if there is no such thing as forever?
Since God's grace guarantees your final destination, it also must guarantee you all the grace you need along the way. We're in trouble when we fail to recognize that future grace carries with it the promise of present grace. That present and eternal grace is a reason to continue even when today is hard.