"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." (2 Chronicles 16:9a) We were placed on earth for purposes that God determined before we were born. Our commitment to the pursuit of a relationship with Him and His plans and purposes for us show the depth of our devotion to Him. As we all know, however, we battle against "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12) who want to wear us down so that we are not successful in glorifying the Lord.
When we are in the middle of a long and difficult battle it is easy to want to give up. During these times we must remind ourselves that every battle presents us with earthly opportunities to glorify God and collect crowns to lay at the feet of Jesus. Once in heaven, we will never be able to do the things we do on earth that bless the Lord. Could we go so far as to say that our time here on earth is a gift from God? I think this is why the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 these encouraging words: "Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God's perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus." (TPT) The foot note in The Passion Translation Bible says that these three virtues (joy, prayer, and giving thanks) combine to form a wonderful expression of Christ's life within us.
Let's consider some of the opportunities we have on earth to bless God. The first one that comes to my mind is the privilege we have to give Him the sacrifice of praise and worship in the middle of pain, sickness, sorrow, and trials. When we chose to tell of His goodness and praise Him for His never-ending love, heaven is drawn to earth. God cannot resist drawing near to those who rise above difficulties to declare His faithfulness and love. I have seen this displayed by family members and friends. When my dad was dying, he asked me to bring my guitar to the nursing home where he lived so that we could sing "It is Well with my Soul" together. Recently, my heart was touched by a friend who is in the middle of a battle with cancer. HIs prayer request was this: "Please pray that I am strong enough to be able to play on the worship team at our church." Can you feel the Lord's great delight in these sacrifices that place Him first?
How about when we live by faith? When we go to heaven faith will become sight, and we will see what we believed. Earth is the only place where we can demonstrate faith. We have the gift of being able to stand with God even though it may cost us something. Such a sacrifice is a delight to the Lord! Don't you think that the Lord's heart must burst with pride when we turn away from temptation and sin? Or think about when we share the Gospel with an unsaved person and lead them to Jesus? These are gifts to the Lord.
In heaven, we will not be able to help someone in need and, in turn, bless God by doing so. Remember those times when you have won victory in a battle. Battles are over in heaven. Earth is the place where we can overcome. God ordained that we do so. There are quite a few books that have been written by people who have had "near-death" experiences. These people have been able to see their lives on earth from a heavenly perspective and were given the gift of a second chance. James 1:17 tells us, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights..." Our time on earth is preparing us for the time when we will go to heaven. We have divine opportunities to demonstrate our love for the Lord while here on earth. Perhaps we should change our perspective during times of difficulties. It is our time to bless the Lord and earn crowns.
Joan E. Mathias