Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

An Echo of Eternity

I was looking through Edward Donnelly’s book Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell and came across a really powerful quote about all that we are not able to do and understand and accomplish in this life. Read it and be blessed!


The prospect of living forever in a renewed universe answers the frustration we feel over the brevity of earthly existence. For human begins have always felt that, at its longest, life is too short. There is so much in this world to discover, such a variety of experiences to enjoy, yet so little time available. How many places there are which we will never visit, books we will never read, great paintings at which we will never look, how much music we will never hear! It is tantalizing to see such wealth slipping away from us with every tick of the clock.

How little we know about even our close friends! What untapped reservoirs they are of character and insight! But it would take so long to learn all that we could about them. And what of millions we have never met—their personalities and their stories? We would be enriched beyond measure by their acquaintance. But we will never be—not on this earth.

In ourselves we are conscious of undeveloped gifts and resources, talents and qualities of which we are only dimly aware. A friend of our family was once asked if he could play the violin. “I don’t know,” he answered, “I have never tried.” He was being facetious, but in a sense he was right. There is more in each of us than has yet appeared. No one has ever seen the real you. We do not even know ourselves properly. But we will not be here long enough for our potential to be discovered.

After a lifetime of studying the Bible, it is simple realism, not mock humility, to acknowledge that we are still paddling in the shallows of revealed truth. With regard to prayer and communion with God we are the merest beginners. As yet we are novices in Christian living. We want to be better people, kinder and more unselfish, but we wrestle with damaged personalities and are disfigured by the scars of the past. Circumstances have stunted our development. Opportunities afforded to others have never come our way. There is so little time for it all!

Do you feel these frustrations? Do you not hunger ravenously for more and more of life? Does not your heart ache at the too swift passage of the years? Is there not a nagging sense of unfulfilment, no matter how happy you may be? Such beings as we are—in such a world—with so little possible!

Praise God for heaven! For every good longing within us is an intimation of immortality, an echo of eternity in our souls, a pointer to everlasting life. We were not created for seventy short years, ‘not born for death,’ in the poet’s words. Our Creator did not design beings of such complexity and capacity for a mere handful of decades. ‘He has put eternity in their hearts’ (Eccles. 3:11) and we have not been redeemed to be frustrated. ‘Life here is too short, too circumscribed, to be the end for man’s marvelous divinely given endowments and aspirations. He scarcely more than gets his preparations made for full and intelligent living until his time comes to leave.’