Journeying Toward Eternity
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When we are young, the world seems to be ours for the taking. We tend to believe we get to choose our own path and decide how our life will turn out.
And when life takes a different turn than expected, we may make New Year’s resolutions designed to increase our wealth, find romantic love, or retain the beauty and energy of youth.
But these things—possessions, pleasure, popularity, performance—hold only earthly appeal. Because there is no hope in them at the end of the journey of life, we need to put our trust in something more secure: the eternal God.
The Voyage of Life
Thomas Cole (1801–1848) created a series of paintings called The Voyage of Life. Each of the four paintings depicts the same voyager on the river of life in a different stage—childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The painting called “Youth” illustrates the folly of many of our New Year’s resolutions.
In this painting, the voyager stands at the prow of his ship, arm outstretched toward a grand palace in the distance. His desire and anticipation are clear—he expects to reach this palace, the sum of his worldly dreams. But he doesn’t realize that the river turns just ahead of him and will take him in the opposite direction of the palace.
When we make resolutions, we often forget that we are not in control of our destiny—and it is a good thing we are not! Like the voyager in Cole’s painting, we can be tempted to choose the lesser good—the earthly palace—instead of that which is of eternal value.
But God, who is sovereign, has our best interests at heart. He wants us to earnestly seek after Him instead of the transient riches of this world because only in Him do we find treasure that lasts ().
The Brevity of Life
One way God reminds us to look to Him instead of listening to the siren call of this world is through the brevity of life.
Moses tells us in,
“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (NASB).
Although numbering our days may seem morbid, it actually gives us a better perspective on life. It enables us to see the folly of seeking after that which is fleeting and turn our hearts to pursue that which truly matters.
Only what we have in God will last, since God alone is eternal (). When we focus on God’s sovereignty, goodness, and eternality instead of our ever-changing circumstances, we can see that the good things as well as the painful things are materials in His hands. He will use both to draw us and drive us to Jesus.
The Telos of Life
There is a telos, an end goal, to our journey: We will spend eternity worshiping Jesus Christ. Because of this, our hopes and dreams are most secure when He is what we most desire.
Life, after all, was never meant to be about us. Instead, it is about the glory of God. We will share in that glory one day, having been transformed into His image day by day on this earth (; ).
We find true satisfaction and fulfillment when we use our unique prism of our personality and resources to worship Him. Because of this, we need to stop believing, hoping, and trusting in gods that have no real power—such as popularity or performance—choosing instead to crave eternity with Christ so we will be less immersed in this world.
This New Year’s, as we make resolutions, let us remember to reorient our hearts to God, gaining a heart of wisdom by numbering our days and treasuring Him above anything this world has to offer.
Copyright © 2021 Ken Boa, used with permission. For more, go to Ken Boa’s series on The Voyage of Life
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