Given all the cold and rainy weather we're having at the moment (I won't say terrible weather as I know some of you actually like it when it's like this!) it reminds me of the times when I've been on a flight when the weather is like this. There comes that point after the plane has taken off when it breaks through the cloud into glorious sunshine, and rather than being under the wet weather you're looking down onto it. That moment always comes as a bit of a surprise to me, and reminds me that the same set of circumstances (a wet rainy day in this case) can look very different depending on your perspective, on the viewpoint which you look at them from.
It's the same in life. I never cease to marvel at how two people can face a very similar set of circumstances - an illness, a job loss, a relationship not working out the way we hoped, a failure, a bereavement or even things going well - but choose to face them very differently. One person is crushed by the circumstances and seems to live under them, the other despite being impacted by them seems to rise above them. I think that largely comes down to a difference in perspective, in the point from which we choose to look at what is going on in our lives.
As Christ followers I think there are many things which should be different about our perspective on life. In fact part of who we are in Jesus is that we can view life from angles and directions which aren't available to other people - in the analogy we now have the option to get in the plane and to see the view from above the clouds. Part of us reading the Bible regularly is that we allow ourselves to view life from God's perspective, that his word about what is true is given a chance to get into us. But I've been reflecting recently on one perspective which have been shaping my thinking, the perspective of eternity.
The apostle Paul puts it this way:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)
This is a man who has been beaten, flogged, stoned, shipwrecked, betrayed, imprisoned, hungry, in poverty and yet he describes all of that as "light and momentary troubles". How? Because his perspective is eternity. He knows that heaven is his home, what Jesus describes to the thief on the cross as paradise, and that all that heaven holds far outweighs anything this life can throw at him.
I had a bit of that experience running the half marathon on Sunday. My goal was to run it in under 2 hours (not very impressive but a major achievement for me!). There was a point about 10 miles in where I was on track to achieve my time, but was feeling exhausted, wet and cold and wanted to stop and walk the rest of the way. If I'm honest what kept me going was the thought that although there was another half an hour of pain ahead, if I endured that and kept going I would get the enduring satisfaction of achieving my goal. Ultimately it was that perspective that kept me going, and I can't tell you how glad I am now that I did.
Heaven is not just a vague hope for us, it is a reality and a certainty we need to live with every day. Not that we idle our lives away waiting to get there, but we realise the reality of what Paul says when he writes "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
What in your life needs to be viewed in the light of eternity? Why not take a moment to meditate and reflect on what it might look like from the perspective of eternity.