I once had a family visiting for lunch, and their little girl came into the kitchen and asked what we were having for dessert. I said, “Caramel ice cream.” And she said, “Caramel ice cream? That’s my favorite!” I was impressed that she knew what it was. I gave her a serving, she tasted it, and said, “Wow! I’ve never had my favorite before!”
Her enthusiasm suggests the expectation of the joys of heaven. One of our deepest human difficulties is the fact that we’ve never had our favorite before; we can’t imagine the best thing that will ever happen. Heaven was very clear to Jesus; Hebrews 12:2 says that He endured the cross for the joy set before Him. We need to fall in love with the future.
Christ lives in the future, of course, but He also lives in all time and is present with us at this moment. It is He who is rolling the future toward us, or us toward the future (“For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things,” Rom 11:36). And who He is will be manifested more fully in the future. There, too, we will come into our truest identity: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).
Thus it makes sense to attend to His words, for they are words from the future, not just words about the future. What He says will happen, will happen. For God, the space between a promise and a prophecy is negligible. If we ask, He will give us wisdom (James 1:5). If we believe in Him, we will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). We shall be changed (I Cor. 15:51). In due season we shall reap if we faint not (Gal. 6:9). He will not leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength (Isa. 40:31). Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4). He will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body (Phil 3:21)…