For the first time I can remember, it is mid-February and our Christmas tree is still up and full of ornaments. Stockings are hanging over the fireplace, and baby Jesus is in the manger scene, which rests quietly on a table. Everything looks exactly as it did two months ago as we prepared to celebrate Jesus’ birth. It took so much time to decorate everything and the twinkling lights are so pretty that it seemed a shame to take it all down after only a few weeks.
A lot of time and effort goes into preparing to celebrate an event that happened more than 2,000 years ago. But how are we doing at preparing for the future?
The word “eternity” has been on my mind a lot lately as I try to keep an eternal perspective and “set my mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2). Life on earth will not last, and the recent earthquake in Haiti is a brutal reminder of that.
The Bible is quite clear in John 3:36 when it says, “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.”
After preaching on the evening of Oct. 8, 1871, Pastor DL Moody told the people to go home and evaluate their relationships with Christ and said they’d discuss it further the following week. That chance never came because later that night a fire began to sweep through the city. Hundreds of people were killed and the church was among those buildings lost in about four square miles of destruction in the Great Chicago Fire. After this tragedy, DL Moody knew that he had to preach the message of Christ to the world and give people a chance to respond immediately. No waiting around for next week or next year.
Josh McDowell set out to prove that based on historical facts, the claims of Christianity could not be true. But in his studies, he came to quite the opposite conclusion. He found the evidence overwhelmingly in its favor and not only were his heart and mind changed, but so was his eternal destination. He now shares his story with crowds of thousands and his Web site reaches around the world with the message of Christ.
My children and I recently read about a man in Egypt named Abraham. He noticed contradictions between who the Qur’an says Jesus is and who the Bible says He is. In his confusion, he prayed that God would show him the truth. He did. And Abraham has come to understand that because Jesus died in his place, he won’t have to spend eternity in hell. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Abraham shares his story with others even though he lives in a country where he is persecuted for his faith.
I grew up going to Sunday school every week, singing in choir, and attending youth fellowship. I spent three consecutive summers working at church camp and I helped with a youth group during my college years. I had a lot of head knowledge about Jesus, but that is as far as it went until an exceptionally difficult day in my mid-20’s. I had a very colicky baby who cried so much that he got kicked out of the church nursery. We were told to never bring him back, so that ended our church-going days. My husband traveled a lot for work. My closest relative lived two states away. I quit my job shortly before the baby’s birth and no longer had a network of friends. I reached the end of myself and slumped to the floor in a puddle of tears. I cried out to the Lord, “Where are You?” And in the moments that followed, the presence of the Lord became very real.
There is a little more to it, but my story is not nearly as exciting as the others. However, my eternal destination was changed just the same. God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He rewards those who are sincerely looking for Him. Don’t wait.
Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.