There is a lot to look forward to when the Lord returns and when we begin life anew in the new heaven and new earth. I guess you could say that infinite pleasures await there—pleasures that will know no end, because time will know no end. The greatest of all these pleasures will undoubtedly be the ability to be face-to-face with God at last, free from all traces of sin and evil. Of all heaven’s treasures, none offers more than this.
But heaven’s greatest pleasure is not its only pleasure. Lately, I have been thinking about another joy that awaits—the joy of a very different relationship with time. When we are mortal, time is a finite resource. But when ten thousand years is as a day, and a day as ten thousand years, time will be infinite and we will be immortal. That will change everything.
I thought about this last week when I traveled to Grace College in Indiana to speak at a few of their chapel services. I had chosen to accept their invitation and was grateful for the opportunity—I enjoyed speaking to the students and I enjoyed getting to know a few of them. There are few things I like more than spending time with Christian college students. Yet in choosing to accept the invitation, I had to choose not to do other good things for those two days.
One of the most exasperating parts of life in this world is that I must constantly choose the good things not to do. So much of life is not the choice between good and bad, but between good and good. Even in the joy of doing one good thing, there is the sorrow of not being able to do another good thing. Three days spent in Indiana, is three days spent apart from my wife and my children. It is three days away from the people I love; I will never get those days back. I have been given perhaps 7,000 or 8,000 days with my children before they move out to begin life on their own, and in going away, I permanently traded away three of those precious days.
This is an inevitable result of being mortal. Each of us has a finite amount of time allotted to us in this world. We do not know how much time we have, but we do know that our time will come to an end. No matter how many years we have, one thing remains true: we will not do all the things we would like to do. Each of us will die with a million things left undone, a million dreams left unaccomplished, a million tasks still ongoing, a million things we could have done better. Each of us will die with some regrets about the way we used our time and the way we prioritized our opportunities and responsibilities. And all of this is true because we are sinful, we are mortal, and our time is finite.
But when we no longer sin, and when we no longer have to worry about the final heartbeat or the final ticking of the clock, and when we no longer have to grapple with the reality of our mortality, we will no longer need to be concerned with regrets—not in the same way we are here and now.
I have found freedom in this: Freedom to know that even though this life isn’t the way things were meant to be, it is the way things will inevitably be. I am to faithfully steward my time, to glorify God in the days he gives me. But all the while I have to keep in mind that I am finite and time is short and there must be difficult decisions and inevitable regrets. God has given me all the time I need to do what he has called me to.
And all the while heaven promises that there will always be another moment. And it promises that we will always use both this moment and that moment well, and without regrets. That will be a joy indeed.