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Forward into eternity

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Remember when you were a child? When half-an-hour felt like forever? When five years difference in age was practically unbridgeable? When "next year" may as well mean next lifetime? I'm not sure how it occurs, but somewhere after you leave school, all the hands on all the clocks begin to spin. Or I should say, all the numbers on the LCD digital display start flipping faster.

Time flies, and I'm not keeping up with it. It's like practicing music with a metronome. No matter how fast I play, it seems as if the beat is always accelerating, as if the tempo is picking up. I wonder if God experiences time that way. Sure, he created it, and he has sovereignty over it just as he does over everything else. But the snowball of human history is rolling down the hill, knocking over whatever and whoever is in its path.

The Scriptures tell us "with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day" (2 Peter 3:8). I'm curious if that's how it will be for us once we crash through history's glass ceiling and are born into eternity. Is life on the other side really so limitless? I hope so, mostly because I'm tired of hitting my head -- and my heart -- against a brick wall of stress and hurry.

Frankly, I'm sick of everything it takes to manage my time. No matter what I do, there never seems to be enough of it. I'm sick of calendars and clocks, schedules and deadlines, spreadsheets and checklists, assignment due dates and estimates. When I get ahead, I'm still behind. When one thing gets done, 10 others rise to take its place. Too many days grow into years. And in the meantime, too much has happened that I no longer remember. It is jarring to realize that a substantial portion of what I've forgotten are things I once considered critically important, even unforgettable.

God, however, remembers. I know I won't be able to "take it with me" any more than anyone else can. But I also know that whatever is worth taking into eternity will already be there waiting when I arrive. I think that is what St. Paul meant when he said, "our lives are hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).

God is the one who keeps time and eternity. He has planned each one of our lives to make the transition between them. That is because we were not created for history, but for heaven. Human beings are unique. We have souls. While we live in time here and now, our bodies carry our souls with them. But when we leave this world, our souls will lead our bodies elsewhere -- forward into eternal life.

In heaven there will be no measures of time because there will be no time to measure. Life there will be one expansive moment; it will not matter whether that moment is one day or a thousand years. What will matter are the things that really mattered here -- you know, the things we so easily lose sight of. It is perhaps ironic that how we spend eternity will largely depend on how we spend our time. The choices we make here do matter, after all. But as we try to orient our lives around the things that last, we ought to remember to count ourselves among them. We are eternal beings. As we move forward, we can be assured that our destiny is not temporal, that our life here is temporary. There are no clocks in the kingdom.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.

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