Forty years on I still remember the illustration. “Imagine the Earth is a solid, stainless steel ball. Every 10 years an ant comes and spends one minute walking around on the earth. When the stainless steel earth has worn out from that activity—eternity has just begun,” said the public evangelist.
Almost every week I reflect on that thought. When I am washing the dishes, cleaning mud off the floor or my shoes, writing on some paper, taking out the rubbish, sweeping up the leaves—I think what could an ant do in a minute every 10 years? The illustration reminds me that forever is a very long time.
. . . every human has some understanding, desire or knowledge of an eternity that goes on forever and ever.
Currently, we live such transient lives. Most humans will live only 7×10 years. In that time we eat and waste food, we wash in, drink and waste water, we build houses and destroy them—using natural and man-made products. We also relate to people and aim for meaning in relationships and serve others. But it will all come to a very short and sudden end.
The ancient Israelite King Solomon reflected on this. Although there is time for everything, in Ecclesiastes he wrote, “It is all meaningless . . . a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 2:17). However he also reflects that God has put eternity into the hearts of humans (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In other words, every human has some understanding, desire or knowledge of an eternity that goes on forever and ever. That is how God made each of us—the tradesman who maintains your home or car, the mother doing the school run, the fully committed disciple of Jesus, the atheist, the party goer, the loner—all of us understand eternity. The big questions are, how do we obtain eternity? And what are we going to do for eternity?
Believers and followers of Jesus know the answers. Jesus gives us eternity and will allow us to develop ourselves and our relationships, perfectly, forever.
Connecting people to their eternal heart is part of our mandate. Forever!
Pastor Glenn Townend is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.