Giving our Children an Eternal Perspective

eternal perspective


I don’t want our kids to feel at home here.

Because–

This is not their home.

Yes–I want them to enjoy life.
And be healthy.
And feel comfort.
And know safety.
And taste success.

But not if it means that they–
Feel too much at home.

That’s why we talk about death sometimes.
And yes. I get it. There’s a balance. We’re not trying to load them down with more than their little hearts and minds can handle, but if anything– the see-saw is weighted too heavily on the other end.

We live in a mirage of security.
Where we think there is a medicine or method or mystic or mantra that can keep us from being
Mortal.
But it’s a dangerous illusion to uphold that creates myopic vision. Eternal fervor is dampened under the delusion of here and now. But those who are redeemed by Christ are not citizens of this here and now. No–

“Our citizenship is in Heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
~ Phil. 3:20

So, we do talk about death.  We don’t shy away from it.
Because for most people, in most places, in most times throughout history–
Death is a common foe.
And in the midst of the grief, something healthy comes from that heartache. No one has to convince us that “…we are but dust.”  And a man comes to know that–

“His days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and its place knows it no more.” ~ Psalm 103:14-16

But on the flip-side– we also talk a lot about Heaven.

We  just spent the weekend with some close friends who were visiting from out of town.  Their child, our daughter’s friend, has childhood diabetes. She developed it when she was only six or seven. When she was little, I’d watched her prick her tiny finger, adjust the insulin amounts and wait patiently for the numbers that would determine if she could stay at the slumber party. She’s doing well, living life fully, and is full of joy, but there still are nights when the numbers don’t follow predicted routes and her mama must fight off sleep, checking the levels over and over, to ensure her safety.
It makes me long for Heaven.

We have friends who are missionaries in Niger. Our friend, who is a doctor, has story after story about the broken, sick, hurting people who enter the hospital where he works:
–twisted arms wrapped too tightly, requiring amputation
–babies dying from typhoid infested waters
–too-young mothers laboring for days with newborns already gone
Death on a daily basis. There is no semblance of security in Niger– only true hope, eternity’s promise.
It makes me long for Heaven.

We turn on the news or open a browser and hear about Christians persecuted all around the world.
The pain, the suffering, the fear…
It makes me long for Heaven.

And next month would’ve been Selah’s seventh birthday.  Her birthday used to take me back to that season when grief was thick and heavy.  But now, even though there is still a hole, I can smile and imagine her with God, in a place where there is no pain, no sorrow, where He wipes away all tears.
And it makes me long for Heaven.

Heaven changes everything.
It shifts our dreams, our goals, our direction.
It affects our pain, our sorrow, our fears.
Heaven gives us hope.

“We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope…Then we will be with the Lord forever.  So encourage each other with these words.” ~ 1 Thess. 4:13, 16-18 

 Heaven moves us to invest in what will endure–
Forever.
Heaven gives us courage to sacrifice for what will last–
Forever.

And when my own child hurts…
I’ve often wished that I could take her thorn.
But no– I will be thankful. For the hurt that makes her more compassionate. For the struggle that makes her more persistent. For the weakness that makes her need Him More. Because I want her to live for Heaven now.

So, as I said…
I don’t want our kids to feel at home here.

I want them to know–
To really know that:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more…” ~Rev. 21:4

I want them to believe–
To really believe that:
Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may also be.” ~ 1 John 14:3

And I want them to live–
To really live in such a way that when they reach Heaven they will say:
“I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

 

With Love,
Kara

 



Practical ideas for renewing an eternal perspective:

  • Read Randy Alcorn’s Heaven for Kids or any of the other excellent resources offered by Eternal Perspectives Ministries.
  • Subscribe to The Voice of Martyrs magazine.  Reading about Christ-followers around the world who are facing persecution always shifts my perspective.
  • Develop relationships with older, faithful Christians in your church family.  After Selah died, our four year old said, “Now I know four people in Heaven– Mrs. O’Neil, Grandpa Wink, Selah, and Johnny Cash.”  While he was a little confused about Johnny Cash, Dorothy O’Neil, an older woman in our church, had a huge impact on our family.  We only knew her during the last two years of her life, but when she talked about Heaven, you knew it was real and she was anxious to meet Jesus face to face.
  • Read  Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It by Paul Tripp.
  • Read or listen to missionary biographies.  We highly recommend the Swans are Not Silent Series by John Piper. For younger children, we also recommend YWAM Biographies, Dave & Neta Jackson’s entire series, Catherine Mackenzie’s Little Lights Series, and The Torchlighter’s movies.
  • Read  Heaven by Joni Eareckson Tada.
  • Talk about real life.  Our oldest son became a Christian on January 22, 2008.  I know the exact date because it was the day Heath Ledger died.  We were talking about his death at dinner and how much changes the moment a person dies, which led to a longer discussion that God used to transform our son’s heart.  My husband is great about pointing the kids to an eternal perspective in whatever we’re reading. If you want to grow in that area (which I do) Everyday Talk by John Younts is an excellent book about incorporating biblical conversations in everyday life.
  • Begin every morning thanking God that “we are looking forward to a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” ~ 2 Peter 3:13

 

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