The Thing About Forever Is…

The thing about forever is that we only think of it in its cutest terms, like how you would love to spend eternity with the one person that makes your heart do backflips every time you see her. That, in itself, is a wonderful, kilig-inducing idea. Except for a few snags, like these:

1) Eternity is a long time. If we go there now without transformation, we will bring with us all our sin baggage. Just do the math. You carry your own imperfections; the other person will carry her own flaws. Put that together and add “forever” to the mix, you get imperfect union that doesn’t ever end. It’s actually just marriage without the option of dying.

2) Our idea of eternity is too fluffy, cuddly, and cute; and it is centered around only one person. This is logistically problematic. How many hidden wonders and delights are there in your girlfriend (or boyfriend) to keep you fascinated forever? Can you truly say that this person is inexhaustibly beautiful and interesting that after three hundred years (wait, make that three million), there will still be things about her to surprise you and make your heart thunder in your chest?

3) Our idea of forever flies in the face of what the Bible teaches about eternity. In heaven, people will not be given over to marriage (Matthew 22:30). I know this is a hard pill for us to swallow but that’s what the Bible says. Romantic relationships are earthly arrangements. Heaven has an entirely different economy of relationships. We may never be able to picture it out now but we can be certain that it is far better and far more glorious than what we can conceive.

Naniniwala ka ba sa forever?

I do. But not in the way pop culture paints it. I believe in forever, first, because the Bible says so, and second, because all my human experience points to it. Every time I see or hear something beautiful or majestic, my heart aches for that thing to last forever. You know what I am talking about. We all have this gut feeling that every noble, beautiful, and pure thing in this world should never disappear into the void.

This is not wishful thinking. The aching of the heart that you feel when you know that something good is slipping by your fingers is an echo of eternity. God planted that deep yearning inside us (Ecclesiastes 3:11) to give us a back glimpse of what we lost in the Garden of Eden. This longing is a memory trace of a long forgotten past when God walked with humans in the cool of the day. Our hearts dimly recall the glory of Eden before sin came and shattered everything.

This is why Jesus came. He came to restore to us what we lost in the Garden thousands of years ago. He came to make it possible for us to step into eternity and actually experience what our broken hearts are yearning today. He came to give us a better forever: better than the cute, cuddly version our pop culture concocted for us, and better than our feeble idea of eternally holding hands while walking in the sunset.

You don’t get to that forever by staring at your lover’s eyes. You get to it by trusting Jesus.