Bri Johns – Student Pastor & Director of Student Programming
In 2006, my husband Jake proposed to me on the Huntington Beach Pier the day after Thanksgiving. It was incredibly romantic and an exciting time in life. We were young and in love and planning for our future together in whimsical ways. Fast forward to today. We’ve been married for almost 8 years, live in Arizona, own a home, and have two toddler boys who keep us very busy. Life is bliss. Life is full.
Then suddenly a horrific scene. – I watch as a newsflash reads: ISIS beheads twenty-one Christian men. I am jolted to the core. I am afraid. I am reminded of how fleeting and short this life is, and how mindful I need to be of eternity.
Here I am worrying about choosing the right preschool for my kids, getting out of debt and planning a retirement, all the while a group of young men just had their very last day on earth. I turned to Jake after reading this and said, “I should have never gotten married. I should have never had kids. I am so attached to this place. I don’t want to leave.”
Eternity minded. That’s what the Bible tells us to be in Colossians 3.
“Since then, you have ben raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
This seems so crazy, so unorthodox.
How often do you think about death? James 4:13-14 says…
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carryon business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes.”
King Solomon says in his book, Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless, meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecc. 12:8) referring to life and our efforts to fulfill our human desires while on this earth.
I don’t actually regret getting married, having kids, pursuing a career, and acquiring possessions, but I worry that these earthly things blur my vision for the Kingdom, God’s reign in every aspect of my life. They become my day-to-day focus. They can distract me from an eternal perspective. Days and years go by and I can be oblivious to the reality that my life will end and begin again in a place called heaven. Yes, this is going to sound like crazy-talk to some of you.
I know I shouldn’t feel guilty about the things I love here, because they are just glimpses of heaven itself.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights…”
James says that every good and perfect gift comes from the God who loves us. He blesses us and wants us to have life to the full (John 10:10). But there is a side of all of this that can get so twisted up. If those good and perfect gifts become the very things I attach myself to, find validation and value in, and distract me from the gift giver Himself, then I am lost. I am missing the point of this life. I am merely consuming, overfilling myself and walking a very safe path to my death.
I don’t know what I would do if I was face to face with death like the twenty-one Egyptian men. I pray that I can be mindful of eternity everyday, that this mindfulness would compel me to do anything for my God, the King of my life, and that my focus on eternity would compel me to live an even fuller life with the people I love.