“My job is to make it to the finish line.” These were the words of a lovely friend who was dealing with a cruel and incurable illness. The apostle Paul expressed the same idea. He said, “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me” (Acts 20:24). Both individuals are living with the end in view. The brevity of their earthly lives is apparent to them.
There is a finish line to this life. We all recognize it; we know we are mortal. But that finish line means something very different for those who believe in God. Why? Because our God is eternal—and that changes everything. The psalmist wrote: “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13).
God existed before time. Rather than being bound by the chronology we know, God completely surrounds and contains time. He created time. True, we all must live now within its boundaries, but God created us for eternity. The writer of Ecclesiastes put it this way: “He has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT). Most cultures admit some knowledge of a life beyond this earthly one. Those who do not believe in God—who see this life as all there is—feel they must experience all this world has to offer right now. But we believers have a different view of the horizon; though we have only a glimpse now, we can envision life beyond the finish line.
Paul writes: “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 Corinthians 4:18). These words describe a powerful promise. Let the importance and beauty of it grow in you, for it will change the way you think and live. The more we trust these words as truth, the more its understanding will produce peace and lasting purpose within us. Think about it. Tell the Lord you trust Him to receive you when you cross the finish line of this life.
An eternal perspective points us to what is lasting. What will endure? What will last forever? Your small and private obediences, your unnoticed acts of love and service, are investments in eternity. They are statements that you love the Lord and believe His Word. An eye on eternity will change our attitudes. John Ortberg beautifully wrote that “eternity is now.” Our life with God is right now and will continue beyond the finish line. Living with this knowledge infuses life with a joy and purpose that can sustain us as we face hardship; it can sustain us even as we gain on our own finish line.
A few weeks ago, I spoke with someone who had accepted hospice care and knew her finish line was near. She said that she knew who she was in God’s eyes—she was beloved, bought with a price, and kept by her loving Lord for eternity. She encouraged me to focus on what is unseen, on what is eternal.
When we love the Lord, we can live our lives with eternity as the backdrop to all of our hopes, sorrows, joys, difficulties, and decisions. Paul W. Swets is a pastor and counselor who spent decades praying for the sick, assuring the dying, and comforting the bereaved. He wrote this summary of his confidence in God: Dear friends, when the last trumpet sounds and the resurrection bell resounds, “paradise lost” will become “paradise found,” and you and I will celebrate the glory of God.¹ We who believe declare this with joy, with confidence, and with trust in our Creator and Redeemer.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
by Pastor June Barrow
¹Paul W. Swets, The Coming Glory: Hope Now for Life After Death, Rapid City, SD: CrossLink Publishing, 2019, p. 115