Many people live for those "defining moments" in life. In pursuit of moments that mark achievements: academically, financially, physically, socially, and emotionally - we go about our lives striving for these things, waiting to attain them - and, just as soon as we arrive - we are forced to come up with a new pursuit.
I'm guilty of striving for these moments. Perhaps because, by the grace of God, I have attained a lot of the things I'd always hoped for, or perhaps because my imagination and goals are small - but the moments I seek to pursue are not huge. No, I'm simply guilty of spending much of my life planning and pursuing "happy experiences". I am guilty of working very hard at making those "Kodak Moments" happen in our family, to reach that spot where everyone is giddy and happy and we look around at each other and think, "How could I ask for more?"
But, and here's the clencher, how long does this feeling really last? Seconds, minutes, perhaps sustainable up to an hour? Then, the endorphines, attitudes, emotions, and rotation of this great planet kick in....... and it's gone. Let me give you a few examples - these are the sorts of things that I exert tremendous amounts of planning and energy to "get to"-
THE MOMENT: Walking into the gates of Disneyland. Kids are wearing their new Disney shirts, "Zip a Dee Doo Da" is playing in the background..... We have arrived!
WITHIN MINUTES: Kids are arguing, the line for the Dumbo ride is way too long, John has motion sicknes, we're arguing, and I have a headache......
THE MOMENT: Sitting in the hot tub at Sunriver, peppermint cocoa with sprinkles in hand, an excellent Christmas romance novel being read, and snow peacefully falling and re-blanketing the ground
WITHIN MINUTES: The snow is turning to rain, I feel incredibly fat and bloated from all of the food I've consumed, I'm depressed by the idea that the Christmas season is almost over, and the house we've rented is completely trashed
Get the picture? I'm finding these "happy places" that I spend so much time trying to attain, are fleeting at best. Am I saying that the experiences themselves aren't worth it? Of course not! But, should I begin changing my perspective so that I'm not expecting the long-term happiness I'm constantly seeking in these moments to last? You bet.
Perhaps, that's why, many people struggle with the idea of Heaven lasting for Eternity. There isn't one "thing/activity" that I can think of that would work for me forever. Boredom, lack of challenge, shifting interests..... all common concerns for what it will be like for us; we know no other perspective.
HOWEVER, (and this is my "ah-hah" moment that happened last night), if I think of Eternity, it doesn't seem concerning at all if my thoughts go not towards activities, but to relationships. Consider that person[s] in your life that you love, absolutely love. Be it children, friends, spouse, siblings, family - those people that make life better just by being in your presense. Don't have an example coming to mind, how about that initial feeling of "true love forever" with a person you fell for - where all you wanted to do was soak in more and more time just being around him/her? If you'd been asked, you could only have dreamed for it to last for eternity. When I think of eternity in terms of relationships, all of a sudden, I want to cry. How I long to have that endless time with my best friends: my husband, sister, children, parents - and special friends.
So, if Heaven is then meant to be all about the RELATIONSHIP vs. the EXPERIENCES - what should I be putting my thoughts and energy into now? Let's be honest - with as much as I'd want an eternity with these loved ones, I wouldn't want them to be right next to me all that time (or lack of time!). Even the people in our lives can't satisfy all of our deep rooted needs. Yes, it satisfies longer than the "pursued-for moment", but relationships are still fickle and, here on earth, and quite undependable. Except One - (yes, you knew that was coming). God doesn't "get old", let us down, or become fickle in His love and affection for us. He is constant, yet vibrant and not-boring. He sustains, challenges, renews, encourages. The life he offers isn't about the fleeting "happy moments" it's about "life abundant". I love that word, "abundant"- oh, the possiblities.
I'm losing my computer power, and John is gone with the charger (see, fleeting moments!), so I'll end this novel here. I learned some things about myself last night and the futility of devoting so much of myself for things that won't last. As Steven Curtis Chapman so appropriately sums it up, "There's more to this life"......