One of the more popular worship songs of the early 2000s has a wonderful way of lifting us out of our present circumstances and transporting us to our future home.
I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by your side.
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When Your face is before me.
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing Hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine. I can only imagine.*
His face before us…surrounded by His glory…awestruck to see Him at long last. What wonderful images!
That moment may seem far off, but it will be upon you before you know it. Some in the SMI family might well experience it firsthand before the next issue is printed. You could be one of those people. I could be one of those people. Life is a vapor, “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
As Jonathan Cahn reminds us in The Book of Mysteries, as a follower of Jesus you have opportunities to do things for God now that you won’t have in heaven.
In heaven you’ll never again have the chance to help send missionaries to those who don’t know Christ. Everyone will know Him there. Earth, not heaven, is the place for evangelism.
In heaven you’ll never again be able to give for Bible translations. Everyone will have access to the Word there. And in heaven you’ll never again be able to help provide for the needs of the poor. Heaven has no poor.
The place to sacrifice for the gospel and the Kingdom is here. And every opportunity you have here is one you will not have again in the perfection of heaven.
This should cause us to think deeply on the values we hold, the activities we pursue, and the decisions we make. Our purpose for being here is to delight in and, by any and all means, reflect the glory of God. “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory…” (Isaiah 43:6-7).
What are we doing now, in this “little while” before we “vanish,” to make the glory of God known? Since this issue of SMI contains our annual emphasis on the giving aspect of stewardship, we might specifically ask: Is our generosity pointed in the direction of glorifying God among the nations?
At the personal level, your giving is a tangible indicator of your zeal for His name, your gratitude for the cross, and your trust in His faithfulness.
Whether you want it to be or not.
Is that good news to you? Or is it cause for self-examination? In an audience as large as SMI’s, I know there are those who have learned to “excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). You give to God first and live on what’s left over. I applaud your desire to worship in this way. You are cheerful givers, the kind God loves (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Others of you, however, may tend to give Him only what is left over or what is comfortable. You don’t trust Him to “meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) With all tenderness, may I suggest this neither glorifies our God nor, ultimately, satisfies your own soul. You’re undermining what you want most — to please the Father’s heart.
Let us help you make a change in direction. It’s not too late to begin anew. The painter Andrew Wyeth once said that an artist’s greatest irritation is having his work criticized before it is finished. God isn’t finished with you. With His help, you can begin building a pattern of faithfulness into this area of your life while there is still time.
So, I encourage you to sow a life of generosity so you might reap an abundant harvest. The King has it all planned out: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).
I wonder, what “many things” will you be in charge of? How can you describe the emotional high of sharing the Master’s happiness? We can only imagine.
*“I Can Only Imagine,” words and music by Bart Millard, from Almost There by Mercy Me. Copyright 1999 by Simpleville Music (ASCAP).