ETERNITY IN THE HEART
ETERNITY IN THE HEART
Solomon said that God set eternity in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Solomon experienced every earthly pleasure possible and made this tremendous statement. “Eternity” refers to a deep abiding awareness of something beyond this life. In every human soul is a God-given awareness that there is “something more” than the darkness of this world. Michael Eaton said, “Our consciousness of God is part of our nature, and the suppression of it is part of our sin.” Mankind hungers for something that cannot be supplied by this world — a quest for eternity. Anthropological evidence suggests that every culture has a God-given, innate sense of the eternal — that this world is not all there is. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you.” Blaise Pascal said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that cannot be filled by any created being, but by God alone made known through Jesus Christ.”
The problem that the world deals with is that humanity attempts to fill this restlessness with things other than God. Solomon declared, “Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3). I believe that God designed us so we can’t find fulfillment or lasting enjoyment apart from knowing Him. Listen to the psalmist: “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). Seeking after God should be our most important priority. Our God who created us sent His Son to die for us because He longs to have a personal relationship with us. Therefore, He carefully made man and placed in him an inner desire — a hunger — to know Him. The prophet Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18).
In spite of the fact that God is self-sufficient and needs absolutely nothing to be complete, He loves us so much that He wants us to benefit from His abundant blessings. Until we understand that fact and respond to His love, we will continue to be like the prodigal son, searching through all of the pleasures, riches, drugs, jobs, and relationships the world has to offer. Too many spend their lives looking for something other than God to fill their longing for meaning — and remain unfulfilled. Solomon, who had all the riches, success, esteem, and power in the world (in short, all that men seek after in life), never found fulfillment for his longing. He declared it all “vanity”, meaning that he sought after these things in vain because they did not satisfy. In the end he said, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
I want us to consider a passage from Zephaniah: “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (3:17). Just as a loving parent cradles a child and sings out of love, so God’s song over His people is born of His great love. After a time of hardship, our loving Lord dries His people’s tears, comforts their hearts, and welcomes them into His love and care. Who wouldn’t want this Almighty God loving us in this fashion? All of the trinkets of the world cannot love you and care for you — but God can. God doesn’t love anyone out of constraint or coercion. He overflows in joy to bless and help those who seek a relationship with Him.
One of the problems we face is believing that knowledge about God is the same as knowing God. It is not the knowledge about God that is the key to eternal life. It is a real hunger to be embraced by God and know Him as our Father and enjoy an intimate relationship with Him. It is this relationship with our Father through Jesus Christ that makes it possible to be filled with His presence, and to be changed into His likeness: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). There is no need for your life to go on as it has been. God can change you regardless of how corrupt your life may have been. First John 3:1-2 tells us that “when He appears we will be like Him”, and “we will see Him just as He is”. Philippians 3:20-21 speaks of the day when Jesus appears and “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Are you filling that longing for eternity by seeking God and having a personal relationship with Him?