Lindenville Devotional Eternity Begins Now

Eternity Begins Now

An Except from Anne of the Island, by L.M. Montgomery…

“HOW STRANGE THE GRAVEYARD looks by moonlight!” said Ruby suddenly. “How ghostly!” she shuddered. “Anne, it won’t be long now before I’ll be lying over there. You and Diana and all the rest will be going about, full of life—and I’ll be there—in the old graveyard—dead!”

The surprise of it bewildered Anne. For a few moments she could not speak.

“You know it’s so, don’t you?” said Ruby insistently.

“Yes, I know,” answered Anne in a low tone. “Dear Ruby, I know.”

“Everybody knows it,” said Ruby bitterly. “I know it—I’ve known it all summer, though I wouldn’t give in. And, oh, Anne”—she reached out and caught Anne’s hand pleadingly, impulsively—”I don’t want to die. I’m AFRAID to die.”

She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life—the things that pass…

“Why should you be afraid, Ruby?” asked Anne quietly.

“Because—because—oh, I’m not afraid but that I’ll go to heaven, Anne. I’m a church member. But—it’ll be all so different. I think—and think—and I get so frightened—and—and—homesick. Heaven must be very beautiful, of course, the Bible says so—but, Anne, IT WON’T BE WHAT I’VE BEEN USED TO.”

It was sad, tragic—and true! Heaven could not be what Ruby had been used to. There had been nothing in her gay, frivolous life, her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change, or make the life to come seem to her anything but alien and unreal and undesirable.

The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for; the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must be begun here on earth.

“I think, Ruby,” she began hesitatingly—for it was difficult for Anne to speak to any one of the deepest thoughts of her heart…and it was hardest of all to speak of them to such as Ruby Gillis—”I think, perhaps, we have very mistaken ideas about heaven—what it is and what it holds for us. I don’t think it can be so very different from life here as most people seem to think. I believe we’ll just go on living, a good deal as we live here—and be OURSELVES just the same—only it will be easier to be good and to follow the highest. All the hindrances and perplexities will be taken away, and we shall see clearly. Don’t be afraid, Ruby.”

“I can’t help it,” said Ruby pitifully. “Even if what you say about heaven is true—and you can’t be sure—it may be only that imagination of yours—it won’t be JUST the same. It CAN’T be. I want to go on living HERE. I’m so young, Anne. I haven’t had my life. I’ve fought so hard to live—and it isn’t any use—I have to die—and leave EVERYTHING I care for.”

Anne walked home very slowly in the moonlight. The evening had changed something for her.

Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She WAS leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life—the things that pass—forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other—from twilight to unclouded day. God would take care of her there—Anne believed—she would learn—but now it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness, to the only things she knew and loved.

Anne walked home very slowly in the moonlight. The evening had changed something for her. Life held a different meaning, a deeper purpose. On the surface it would go on just the same; but the deeps had been stirred. It must not be with her as with poor butterfly Ruby. When she came to the end of one life it must not be to face the next with the shrinking terror of something wholly different—something for which accustomed thought and ideal and aspiration had unfitted her. The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for; the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must be begun here on earth.

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“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them.’” Ecclesiastes. 12:1

Time wasted is time lost. There’s a time to search, and a time to keep—but if we do neither when it’s time, can something be found if it’s never been looked for, or can something be kept after it’s already been thrown away? God equipped the heart of man to discern the appropriate time for all things. Ignoring our hearts will mean opportunities lost. No one can recover their youth when they’re old—and, no one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be unheard. God is a God of restoration. He forgives actions of ignorant or willful haste, and He sets errant and aimless feet upon level, straight pathways. The past is gone, and the future is God’s domain alone—the truth of real hope—so the present is ours to squander or to live by faith in. Make today one that isn’t bitter to recall when it becomes yesterday.

From The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis—Demon uncle, Screwtape, tutors his demon nephew, Wormwood, in how to corrupt a human:

“You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own.’ Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours…The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we cannot find a shred of argument in its defense. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels*…When I speak of preserving this assumption in his mind, therefore, the last thing I mean you to do is to furnish him with arguments in its defense. There aren’t any.”

*personal property

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“Do not reprove a scoffer lest he hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you.” Proverbs 9:8

There are many things to be enjoyed in life, with or without acknowledging the Creator of it. However, think of two children….Two children are given an interesting toy—one knows who gave it, the other doesn’t. What happens when the children become unhappy or bored with the toy—and count on it, it’s going to happen—the child who knows the giver has more than just a toy, that child has relationship.

“Human beings must be known to be loved; but Divine beings must be loved to be known.” —Blaise Pascal

“…the human soul was made to enjoy some object that is never fully given—nay, cannot even be imagined as given—in our present mode of spatiotemporal experience. This desire was, in the soul, as the Siege Perilous in Arthur’s castle, the chair in which only one could sit. And if nature makes nothing in vain, the One who sits in the chair must exist.” —From The Pilgrim’s Regress, by C.S. Lewis

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Even though the writers of The Constitution of the United States weren’t all strictly followers of Jesus, they set up this nation “Under God.” They understood that creating a government from a lesser ideal would lead its people back to a ruling hierarchy and common-variety tyranny. No human ideology allows total freedom. Strong statement, but think about it. It’s the truth.

However, the idea that there’s a Christian nation, a Christian business, or a Christian structure of any kind is a misapplication. Jesus Christ didn’t lay His life down for an individual nation, business, structure, what have you; Jesus died for people, the people of the world.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16,17

A stretch of land, a business, a building—each of these things can be dedicated to the ideals of Christianity, and, each can just as easily be wiped from existence. A Christian is a living soul—any time, any place, any condition—whether in great company, or all alone.

Neither the idolatry and polytheism of eastern cultures, the humanism of European nations and her colonies, the superstition and despotism of third world classes, nor the tide of relativism beating on America, can stop the indwelling Spirit of Christ in the heart of a person with an active, living faith.

“Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” C.S. Lewis

©Cami Tapley.