Eternal perspective extends friendships forever
Our friendships today whet our appetites for heaven. Speaking with my friend Sue on the phone is painful—in that I’d rather the conversation not end. Having a Mexican lunch with Renee feels cut short. Receiving a funny card from another Renee resonates laughter right to my toes. Hearing Holly pray for me makes me wish the Amen wouldn’t come. What is beautiful about heaven is that we will be able to connect in the deepest possible way with our existing friends, and friends yet to be made. And, we have the privilege of connecting deeply for eternity.
Joni Eareckson Tada in her book When God Weeps summarizes the embryonic state of friendships on earth and a desire for more: “I love [my friends] so much that I want to pass through them, reach the other side, to know them fully, be one with them . . . I can’t on earth. I’m on the outside of their heart’s door, always wanting to get in, get closer, even while relishing their company. My longings are eased knowing that in heaven I will ‘get in.’” (p. 207)
Part of the beauty of eternal perspective is that God will use us to help populate heaven with more friends. The thought of heaven and the reality of hell enable us to be proactive and redemptive in our choice of friends. God may want to use us to help bind up the wounds of a hurting friend—to help ready her for an eternal task. He may want us to befriend our Buddhist neighbor and share His loving forgiveness with her. God’s desire is that none would be sent to a Christ-less eternity. In His plan, He chooses to use us as His rescuers. It’s amazing to me that He chooses us to bring others to Himself, to help Him populate the streets of heaven.
Having an eternal perspective enriches our friendships—past, present and future. It empowers us to cling to the God who dares to call us His friend. It helps us anticipate new friends who often come in surprising packages. It opens our eyes to God’s friend-shaped sanctification journey. It prods us to be about the business of populating heaven and enjoying our friends forever.