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With Christmas approaching, we reflect on God’s ultimate gift of Himself to us.  Though His birth occurred over 2000 years ago, Christ continues to live in and through those who have a relationship with Him.  God’s gift to us was not only a person (Jesus) but a place (heaven).  The joys we experience on earth are but a glimpse of the elation we will experience in God’s presence.  However, what we do in this life has eternal significance.

Earlier this year in Nigeria , a visiting medical student introduced me to the writings of Randy Alcorn.  I’ve been particularly challenged by two of his books: In Light of Eternity and Money, Possessions and Eternity.  Both books point out that heaven is our real home and “Life on earth is a dot.  From that dot extends a line that goes on for eternity.  Right now you’re living in the dot.  But what are you living for?  Are you living for the dot or for the line?  Are you living for earth or for heaven?  Are you living for the short today or the long tomorrow?”

People sometimes remark to us, “It must be very rewarding to be helping people in Africa .”  Yes, we do enjoy our work, but first and foremost we look forward to the full extent of joy in heaven.  When faced with difficulties and insecurity, we are tempted to wonder, “Is this all worth it?”  Keeping our sights set on heaven helps us to persevere.

After speaking about how momentary troubles achieve eternal glory, Paul says “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen (present sufferings), but on what is unseen (fu­ture rewards). For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18).  Paul ran his earthly race with his eyes on heaven’s prize.  We are aliens and strangers on earth (Hebrews 11:13 -16).  “Set your sights on the realities of heaven… Let heaven fill your thoughts” (Colossians 3:1-2).

One quote of Jim Elliot has motivated me in serving Christ: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  What we have on earth is not our own, but the treasures we store in heaven will be ours to enjoy for eternity.  Only when we gain an eternal perspec­tive will we eagerly devote our brief lives to the pursuit of eternal treasure.  Eternity will hold for us what we have invested there during our lives on earth.  Unlike earthly treasures, we can enjoy heavenly treasures without ever exhausting them (Luke 12:33 ).

In preparing to return to Nigeria in early January, my moti­vation has been strengthened to invest in the lives of peo­ple, treasures that will last for eternity.  We’ve been challenged this Christmas to keep our focus on Christ and the place in heaven He is preparing.  Thank you for investing in eternity through your gifts and prayers toward our in ministry in Nigeria .  One day in heaven we will all meet and celebrate to­gether in Christ’s presence.

Contemplating heaven with you,