When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
By: John Newton, 1725-1807
Listen as you read. This version features Ayako Ishikawa on violin.
I suppose there is probably some mathematical flaw in that formula so please forgive me, but that helps me to come to terms with the phrase “we’ve no less days”. How do you wrap you mind around that? Eternity is the hope that Jesus and His grace have made available to us, and it is just as real today, as it will be ten thousand years from now. In other words, it is infinitely true for infinity.
But what difference is that making for you today? Maybe the first question to answer is whether you believe it should make a difference? Think about it.
If you are living like you do not believe having eternity waiting for you makes a difference, maybe it is because you have never really determined if you believe it. I am confident that there are many believers, meaning those who have decided to place their confidence in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone, who have not come to terms with everything that confidence avails and implies. Fortunately, whether we have apprehended the magnitude of our inheritance does not effect our ability to fully possess it one day. [If you are looking for something that may help try this from Francis Chan.]
For me, the tragedy is that many of us spend next to no time thinking about some of these inspiring truths, let alone what difference they should make in our daily living. Part of that hinges on our understanding of “when we first [began]”. I think it is safe to say the writer here, not John Newton as this was a verse added later, was referring to the praise we begin to offer in glory. I feel equally as confident saying I believe you could also interpret that our praise begins the moment we begin to follow Jesus.
I read something recently with regard to praising that resonated with me. C.S. Lewis gave a great explanation in his Reflections on the Psalms. He makes a connection between praise and enjoyment that escapes many of us on an intellectual level, even if not an experiential one. He says this.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation…the delight is incomplete until it is expressed.
It is this enjoyment that I believe fuels our praise not only in eternity, but here and now as well. We begin to praise God the moment we realize what He has done for us, and we keep doing that forever, at least we should. If we don’t, and sadly we don’t, then we need to examine what are the things that we enjoy more in that moment than our eternal inheritance.
Over the years I have teased people that everyone in church should want to be involved in worship ministry because it is the one ministry that prepares you more for what you are going to spend eternity doing, praising. I believe there is actually some truth to that, but it really revolves more around the fact that praising ushers in the enjoyment of God that heightens our awareness of His presence with us. It is not about the singing or music making, but about realizing I can do everything in a way that brings God glory.
My point is simply this. Don’t wait until you are “bright shining as the sun” to begin your perpetual praise. Work on it every day, at least until it is really it not work at all. What can you do today to cultivate a life that enjoys God continually?
Jesus, thank You for eternity. It is almost impossible for me to grasp the enormity of it. Even still, help me to work at developing a heart of perpetual praise by showing me how to grow in this today and every day, even as I wait for the rest of forever to begin. In Jesus name. Amen.
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