The Far Side of Forever – November 18, 2022

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:17,18


Military Devotion – November 18, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:17,18

See series: Military Devotions

PCS may stand for “permanent change of station,” but military families know it means starting over. It means packing up life as you know it and venturing out into the unknown.

A degree of apprehension is often involved. Questions arise in people’s minds.

“What is the weather like at that new place? What will the housing be like? What will our life be like over there? But first of all, where in the world is it located?”

It turns out that not just military people face a permanent change of station. Everyone does, or more accurately, everyone will. This time, the word permanent will carry much more weight. You cannot get any more permanent than forever.

If we wonder, “Where is this place?” we find no GPS coordinates are available.

If we ask, “How will we get there?” we are informed, “Transportation will be provided.”

If we inquire, “What will life be like there?” We are told, “It all depends.”

For those who serve in the army of the Lord, “Life will be better than you could ever imagine—and it will be like that forever.”

For those found in the uniform of the Lord God’s enemy, “Your life will be so miserable that you will wish you had never been born—and it will be like that forever.”

“Are these the only possible destinations? “You better believe it. It is God’s truth.”

Who issues these PCS orders? The King of kings and Lord of lords.

When and where will these orders take place? It begins at the time that life here on earth ends. But then, time and space will no longer exist.

Speaking for the family of God, we will find ourselves “on the far side of forever.”

Our attempts to peer into the future are feeble. We can make our guesses about what lies over the great divide, but certainty is out of reach.

There have been a few people who have come back from the far side of forever. Enoch and Elijah showed up at the transfiguration of Jesus—but said nothing to the disciples there that we know of.

We hear of some children who came back from death. There was a young boy at Nain and a young daughter of Jairus. Another youngster returned to life at the time of Elisha. And then, there was Lazarus, who walked out of his tomb after three days days dead still wearing burial clothing.

None of them described heaven for us.

Saint Paul was given a vision of the place, but he said he could not tell us what he saw.

The Bible lists some bad things that will not be there, such as pain, sorrow, and death. The list of good things includes perfect peace and joy.

Our inability to see the sharp details should not surprise us. Saint Paul explains, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

We have been told all we need to know now about that wonderful faraway life. That includes who else will be there. We are told, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The faithful who are still alive will be lifted into the air to gather with those whose souls had already entered glory.

And we are told, “And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

This is a picture of bliss. This is enough to encourage us during the dark and dreary days we stumble through on this side of the divide.

“I go to prepare a place for you,” Jesus said. We look forward to that place.

Where will that be? When will that be? God knows. We will find out.

But we already delight to know; we will live in glory on the far side of forever.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you tell us that you will return to this planet in bodily form. You state that everyone will see you. You promise that those who love and trust you will be able to be with you. Praise be to your name forever and ever. Amen.

Points to ponder:

  • What reasons might God have for not giving us more details about life after this one?
  • When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” are we asking for the last return of Jesus?
  • How would we explain the concept of forever to a child?

Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.

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