“Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb 11:16)
This is our Father’s world. We see the beauty of His handiwork all around us. But to me, the sun-drenched valleys, the snow-capped peaks, the beauty of creation all around us, are but hints of something far more wonderful beyond our physical world. J.B. Phillips had once described this earthly beauty as somewhat “melancholic”. Melancholic it is, for we live in a fallen world. When Man first sinned, the whole Universe was affected (Gen 3:17-18). So man yearns for the perfect beauty that awaits him in Eternity and he has indeed been given a number of hints of the Eternity beyond.
For example, J.B. Phillips wrote of an encounter with C. S. Lewis, a few days after the latter had died.
“…he appeared sitting in a chair, within a few feet of me, and spoke a few words which were particularly relevant to the difficult circumstances through which I was passing.”
We may have heard of accounts of people’s loved ones who just passed on and somehow “communicated” with them. We may question some of these accounts, but certainly some cannot be easily dismissed even in this age of neuro-sciences that probe the deep recesses of our brain and attempt to explain all and sundry, even our “spiritual experiences”.
We are sometimes restless. This is good. It is a design inherent in our make-up. As creatures made in the image of God, we are made to inherit eternity. Hence we groan with deep longing for what is rightly our destiny (Rom 8:18,23). Alas, being enamoured with the attractiveness of the world, we sometimes forget.
So J.B. Phillips reminded us:
“Give your hearts to heavenly things, not to the passing things of earth.” And again “…this life is a preparation of something much more important.”
J.B. Phillips was a man who walked the talk. He was a giving man; he had no problem with too much money. In his life time, He gave away much to others who were needier, like his fellow pastors. His own life as a communicator par excellence of the New Testament, and a translator, exemplified that. His writings sparkled with his conviction of the Truth of the Gospel, especially that our Lord Jesus, the Son of God Himself, broke through into our time and space to redeem us to Himself, preparing us for Eternity with Him.
J. B. Phillips entered Eternity in 1982.
He was perhaps inspired by his fellow Englishman Hudson Taylor, who lived almost a century before him.
As pioneer missionary and founder of China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor and his family served more than 50 years in China. They paid a very heavy price for their convictions. In 1905, at the age of 72, he revisited the cemetery in Zhenjiang, China, where his wife and four children were buried. But from all accounts, Hudson Taylor, a man described by the locals as “hidden in Christ”, still considered it a privilege in the light of Eternity. Perhaps he could point to the estimated 18,000 Chinese souls that were saved after 54 years of sacrifices in CIM work. Several weeks after visiting the cemetery, Hudson Taylor himself joined his family in Eternity. He was buried beside his beloved family.
Eternity beckons. How are we living our lives?
By Dr Leong Chee Lu (YCKC Bulletin 29&30 June 2013)