Cultivating a Long View

“Christ-centeredness… grows out of living constantly with a long view. A perspective that holds in constant view the unshakeable reality of eternity as the backdrop to every issue, every relationship, every hope, every dream, every joy, every sorrow, every smile, and every tear… I can offer no greater gift to those I hold dear in this life, than to point them constantly to eternity, and to the One who sovereignly rules over it.” Ed Hartman

As I grieve the loss of a dear friend and sister in Christ I have been rereading Ed Hartman’s book ‘Homeward Bound’. Hartman writes with understanding and compassion as his first wife ‘a woman I loved more than life itself’ was called home in 1993 leaving four small children. His words have brought timely truth to me.
My friend is home now, she is safe, but how do I, in my short time on earth, constantly offer the greatest gift that I can offer to those I hold dear? How can I point them to eternity? I think, first, I must be preparing for death and eternity myself.
Hartman outlines some ways that we can prepare for death and eternal life:
The first duty is to meditate on death in the time of life. This flies in the face of most everything that is normal and customary in our culture… Why allow our minds to think in such a negative and depressing direction? Even the Christian finds it much easier to say, ‘Why meditate on death when I’ve got so much to be grateful for, and I can set my thoughts, affections, and pursuits on these things? Let’s just be happy and grateful for what God has given us, and let’s not worry about death!’ This is an especially great temptation for those who are young. Our youth have a tendency to think about their lives and future as if they are invincible and indestructible.
None of us expect our death to be as sudden, or soon as it may be. We always assume we have so much more time. Psalm 39:4 says, ‘Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.’ Moses prays in Psalm 90:12, ‘Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ The first duty in preparing to die well is to meditate on death during the time of life.”
The second duty is to make absolutely certain that eternal life is yours – In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul simply tells us to test ourselves. So here are three questions:
Do I possess a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?
- I know I am a sinner and justly deserve eternal punishment (Romans 3:23; 6:23)

- I know that Christ died on the cross, in my place, as my substitute in punishment, and that God placed my sin on Christ and unleashed the unabated fury of his wrath against my sin on Christ. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

- That Christ, in exchange for my sin, has freely credited to me the riches of his perfect righteousness (Romans 4:6,24) and has fully clothed me in his perfect righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) so that when God looks at me, he will say, ‘I have declared you to be perfectly righteous and you meet my requirements to be holy even as I am holy’ (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:16; Hebrews 12:14)
Do I have a peace of conscience through repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation?
Do I have a will that is humbly submitted to the authority of God’s Word?”
The third duty is to deal radically with sin – both past and present sin. Deal radically with it, for there is nothing casual or neutral about any of our sin… An individual made righteous through the shed blood of Christ applied to his life cannot peacefully co-exist with sin in his life. We cannot say, ‘I know this is wrong, but it’s not that bad; it’s not going to lead me astray. I can handle this.’ When the Spirit of God identifies your sin as he shines the light of his Word through the lens of your conscience and says, ‘You know and I know that this is wrong,’ then you are faced with a choice. You must either kill that sin, by God’s grace, or you will be killed by it.”
‘Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to the sinful nature.’ Colossians 3:5
The final duty in preparing to die well is that if we are to die well in the end, we must learn to die daily while we are living. Paul writes of this in 1 Corinthians 15:31: ‘I die every day – I mean that, brothers – just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ We also find this in 1 Peter 2:24: ‘Christ bore our sins in his body so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness.’ Both apostles are referring to a daily dying to self, a putting to death the sinful desires that war against the new desires that God has placed within us by his Spirit… If we are to be prepared to die well in the end we must be dying daily as we live. Jesus said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow.’ That’s dying to self”

Rebecca Wells

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