I recently watched the movie Shadowlands, featuring the life of C.S. Lewis. The movie’s title is a reference to his statement that real life has not yet begun. We are, for now, traversing shadowlands. Life that is truly life will begin when we graduate to heaven.
I love that. And with everything inside of me, I agree. Although Jesus provides for us “life more abundantly” here on earth (John 10:10), nothing here can begin to compare with what is to come. As Hebrews talks about the glorious tabernacle being merely a shadow of the heavenly reality, so I believe that everything beautiful we experience on earth is just that, a shadow. Even what takes our breath away here is the tiniest foretaste, pointing to the true, ultimate Reality that will delight us forever.
This is why Holy Spirit urges us to “take hold” of eternal life. This verb phrase has an extremely active connotation. He means for us to grab onto eternal life it with everything we’ve got. To aggressively keep it front and center. To possess it. To keep it passionately at the forefront of our thoughts; as the focus of our most precious meditation. To eat it, to drink it, to consume it, to rest wrapped up in it like a enveloping garment. He means for us to “love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).
Along these lines, Paul makes this radical statement: If all we had to hold onto were the hope this life has to offer, we should be “pitied more than all men” (1 Cor. 15:19). Even the most wonderful comforts available in the here and now are a pitiable, miserable offering compared to what’s ahead. Paul’s inference is exactly the opposite: we have so much more to hold onto than our present comforts! Unspeakably so!
Holy Spirit wants our focus on what’s ahead. When He empowers us to keep eternal, glorious, unending bliss in our sights, everything else falls into place the right way. We view and approach life through the correct lenses. An eternal perspective shapes our priorities and lifts our spirits with a buoyant, living hope.
“Take hold of eternal life.” This perspective is not one that comes by default. It actually goes against our natural tendency to focus on what we can see with our physical eyes. For this reason, Paul prefaces this same verse saying, “Fight the good fight of faith.” In other words, taking hold of eternal life will not come without a fight. It will require everything inside of you. So roll up your sleeves and get ready for the battle. Determine that no demon in hell is going to keep you from fixing your eyes on the glory awaiting you up ahead.
“For I have come to a reasoned conclusion that the sufferings of the present season are of no weight in comparison to the glory which is about to be revealed upon us” (Rom. 8:14, Wuest Translation).
Have you asked the Lord to reveal to your heart what heaven is like?