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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spending Forever Where Jesus Is

Treasured Friend,

I want to share with you, this week, an excerpt from my book Praying Like Jesus, which I think will encourage your heart to look forward to the unimaginable gift Christ is preparing for you in heaven.

By the way, if you like what you read, you can purchase the book in print, eBook, or audiopages from our website: http://www.joymediaservices.com. Kindle editions are available through Amazon. This book, my favorite of all I've published to date, features 52 chapters (one a week for a whole year) that I guarantee will enhance your prayer repertoire.

So, now, here it is (from Chapter 13):


To Thee, great One in Three,

Eternal praises be, hence evermore.

Thy sovereign majesty, may we in glory see,

And to eternity love and adore.

—“COME, THOU ALMIGHTY KING” (AUTHOR UNKNOWN)



Have you ever tried to imagine forever? I have. Late at night, as a small child, I tried to picture eternity.

On many occasions, having just knelt with my mother and prayed, I would be lying awake in my bed still thinking about God. Perhaps I had been reading a Bible story about living forever with Him. Perhaps I had been listening to a song about God having lived in heaven for eternity past, present, and future. Whatever it was, I would lie there thinking about what forever would be like.

No beginning. No end. Going on and on and on and . . .

Suddenly, my palms would get sweaty, my heart would pound, my mouth would get dry. I would be, in those moments, paralyzed with panic. I had reached the limits of my understanding; my mind wasn’t big enough to comprehend anything or anyone who had neither a beginning nor an end. I am, after all, limited in my context by the temporal. All of us who are earth-dwellers are under the tyrannical jurisdiction and limitations of time.

Although I now know enough of God that I am no longer paralyzed with fear, my adult mind is no closer to imagining eternity than I was all those years ago. I am no less amazed at the God who always was and always will be than I was when I was a child. Nothing caused Him to come into being; He simply is.

When Moses asked God, “What is your name?” God’s reply was “I Am” (Exodus 3:14). It is a name that encompasses the past, present, and future. Not “I Was,” not “I Will Be,” but in the present as I have always been and as I will always be—the “I Am” never changes. He is constant. He has always been love, and He will continue to be. He has always been faithful to His people, and He will continue to be. He has always been truth, and He will continue to be.

Again, I have nothing and no one to compare to Him. He is the only One with no beginning and no end. When the glorified Christ described Himself to the apostle John, He put it in terms that were slightly more understandable in a human context. He said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

And again in Revelation 22:13 He explains for those of us who may not be familiar with the Greek alphabet, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” He was the “I Am” at the beginning of time as we know it, and as human history on this planet closes (at an undisclosed time) He will continue to be the same.

What does it mean to us to have a changeless, eternal God? In practical terms, it means that once we know His character (a discovery that will continue to reveal new layers of truth to us every day), we can be assured that He will never change, He will never be anything other than what He is. He is the one constant in a world of earthquakes, hurricane-force winds, divorce, death, and the rise and fall of nations. Though everything around us may change, we can depend upon Him to be “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

As Jesus continued praying for you and me, He reminded the Father that His ultimate desire was that we might be where He is (John 17:24). Our togetherness with Him would not be temporal, but eternal. Forever with Jesus: That is the hope of the believer. It is the hope that the apostle Paul was persuaded Jesus was able to keep safe for him until the day when it would come to fruition (2 Timothy 1:12). This hope—my hope—is not just based upon the promised physical beauty of heaven, but upon the assurance that heaven is where my Lord and Savior will be. Streets of gold and gates of priceless gems may be permanent features of that celestial city where we will live some day, but the real treasure (the pearl of great price) is being together with Jesus for time without end—for always.

Even more exciting than the fact that I can hardly wait to get to that place where, as the hymnist wrote, “faith shall be sight”1 is that Jesus Himself longs for me to be where He is. Overhear the conversation between our Lord and His Father: “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am” (John 17:24).

This is love. First, that He chose to weave eternity into human souls. That He created us for eternal fellowship with Him. And then that He wanted us to be with Him so much that He laid down His life to make it possible—after we humans had disqualified ourselves from fellowship with Him by choosing to sin.

Eternity in heaven, at the feet of the “I Am,” “lost in wonder, love and praise.”2 That will be paradise.

But it is a paradise I don’t want to keep to myself. I want to share it with others. The implication to my life of this element of Jesus’ prayer is clear to me. I want those I encounter in this world, those I come to care about, those I learn to love—I want them all to be in heaven where Jesus is, as well.

So, my prayer is not for myself alone, but that my colleagues, my family members, my friends and acquaintances might all spend forever where Jesus is—and where I will be.



Personal Prayer Starter


Alpha and Omega, eternal King, who was and is and is to come,

With the hymn writer I am “lost in wonder, love and praise” at the promise of spending forever with You. And I add my voice in thankfulness by saying . . .

Now I pray that You will help me share this wonderful eternity with those I love and care for. I especially pray for . . . and ask that You will give me the opportunity to tell them about Your offer of forgiveness for sin and Your desire to spend eternity with them.

Thank You for this privilege.


Blessings and prayers, Julie

Excerpted by permission from Praying Like Jesus, Updated Second Edition with Study Guide © 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com. To order an ebook copy of this book, visit our website at: http://www.joymediaservices.com.