Few words in the language are as hard to comprehend as this synonym for forever-ness. To feel its frustrating elusiveness, just think back to the time before the world was made, then back to that period before even the angels were created, back to the time when there was nothing or no one but God. Go back still farther and farther to the beginningless beginning. Back, back, back. God always was. He never did begin to be.
Then project your mind ahead into the future—after this earth has been destroyed, after sin has vanished, after time has ceased. Forward, forward, forward. Forever and ever. No end. No end.
Then, as your brain seems to strain against its narrow confines, remember that you are going to live eternally. Forever and ever! Endless life!
Eternity! How men have tried to capture its meaning! Hendrik Van Loon, for instance, gave us this classic though inadequate illustration: "High up in the North in the land called Svithjod, there stands a rock. It is a hundred miles high, and a hundred miles wide. Once every thousand years a little bird comes to this rock to sharpen its beak. When the rock has been thus worn away, then a single day of eternity will have gone by."
Rowland Dixon Edwards tried to depict it as follows: "Aboard an ocean steamer we take a thimble, attach a thread to it, drop it over the vessel's side and bring up a thimble-full of salt water taken out of the ocean. This may represent time taken out of the ocean of eternity."
Eternity is an ocean without shores. It is time without end. It is the immediate moment forever present. It is the lifetime of God.
Even words seem to groan under the weight of the idea.
And no man can claim to be rational who does not take into account the overwhelming fact that this life is but a grain of sand on the limitless shores of eternity. His whole path should be formulated in this light. He should live with eternity's values in view.
It is said that Milan Cathedral possesses three adjoining doors. Over the first is carved a wreath of roses with the inscription, "All that pleases us is but for a moment." The third door is capped with a cross and the words, "All that troubles us is but for a moment." Then over the center door is the reminder, "That only is important which is eternal."
As Christians, then, we must come to grips with the fact of eternity. We must closet ourselves alone with its appalling reality. Then when we go forth there will be a strange gleam in our eyes, and a strange determination in our hearts that our plans will not end in time. We will live for then, not for now!
—From Think of Your Future by William MacDonald.