Dad and I were talking this morning about eternity. What sort of activities could possibly occupy an unceasing eternal existence? Part of the source of that question may be found in the nature of our present existence, which is alien to our future experience in heaven with the Lord. Currently, it is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine being perpetually satisfied with anything. In our present state, we find ourselves longing for something new or something else, whether it be some object, relationship, or occupation. This is so because we have a fallen nature and live in an imperfect sin-cursed world in which we can find no full or complete satisfaction. Sooner or later, all natural things cease to satisfy us. And honestly, though spiritual things ought to satisfy us continually, our flesh crops up and robs us of what ought to be an unbroken appreciation of the things of the Lord. The Bible tells us relatively little about the eternal state, including how we will be occupied. We do know that our relationship with the Lord and our fellow saints will be paramount, that we will be engaged in enjoying His Presence, praising Him, and serving Him. Beyond that, specifics are sparse. Doubtless, many have had more profound thoughts about this topic than I, but following are three somewhat fragmented ideas to start with.
1. Perfect tastes. This side of eternity, we still lack the capacity for perfect, unbroken satisfaction with anything. My father has been making wooden canes and walking sticks for half a century and has turned out more than 1,000 to date. He finds the process therapeutic, satisfying, and enjoyable. I, on the other hand, have not made one complete cane; though I appreciate the end product, I find nothing attractive or enjoyable about the process. To make a cane would be sheer tedium for me. What thrills him chills me because we have different tastes. So it is with us during time as compared with eternity. Though believers have received a new nature, we still retain the flesh and await the perfect refinement of heaven. We cannot yet fully experience what will please and satisfy us then in the perfect state because our tastes have not been perfectly refined. Only the godliest of saints can truly echo Job’s words: “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12b). And even then, at some point the need for food impinges on our minds. When our tastes are heavenly in the eternal state, we will be perfectly satisfied with heavenly things.
2. Perfect vision. The angels are inarguably superior to humans in our present temporal state (Heb. 2:7, 9). Yet, we find that the seraphim are fully engaged in one activity, which brings them complete satisfaction, perfect joy, and total fulfillment. Unceasingly, they declare: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth isf full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3). Though we are redeemed and love the Lord, we cannot fathom being occupied eternally with that one endeavor. What we fail to appreciate is that we see through a glass darkly now and have yet to appreciate the full glory of God. The angels, who dwell in His Presence, have seen His worthiness. They have seen and know that nothing more wonderful exists in all the universe than to proclaim the holiness of their infinite God. Proclaiming His glory consumes them because they have seen Him.
3. Perfect Christlikeness. Perhaps this is the ultimate key. Though redeemed, we have yet to acquire perfect Christlikeness. John writes: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (I John 3:2). Mystery surrounds what we will be in Him. But Scripture indicates that we will be like Him. And as He and the Father had perfect fulfilling fellowship from all eternity (Pro. 8:30) so we will experience at the return of Christ. Our occupation then will perfectly fit and fulfill us in Him. Whatever we do will be done in perfect accord with our nature and fill us with complete joy.
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