When We Were Human

A hundred years from now, where will you be?

Dead, I suspect. Unless Jesus Christ returns between now and then, you will “go the way of all the earth” (1 Kings 2:2)—you will die, and your consciousness will end, and that will be that.

But what about a thousand years from now?

What about ten thousand?

What about ten billion?

At some point, Jesus will return to the earth. At some point, “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). And when that happens, who will you be? What will you be?

You’ll still be you. You’ll still have your memories and your identity. But even still, you won’t be the same as you are now—”it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

It’s such a human thing to look back on our lives and tell stories that begin with phrases like, “When I was younger,” or, “When I was your age.” But a hundred quintillion years from now, when Satan’s final defeat and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth are passages from ancient history, we’ll have to start some of our stories with a phrase that sounds completely ridiculous now:

“When I was human…”

Because we won’t be human forever. This life—this short, temporary, human life—is only a blip. It’s hard to see that now, because that blip is filled with everything we’ve ever known. That blip is where we live and die, where we’ve experienced our greatest triumphs and our most crushing defeats. That blip is where we fall in love; where we begin a family. That blip is where our most treasured friendships begin and end. That blip is where we found a sense of purpose and meaning and value.

But one day, “when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54)—once we’ve outlived the stars of the universe, once we’ve seen for ourselves “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33), once we’ve been fully made into the image of the God who is unbound by the entirety of both time and space—then, at long last, we’ll be able to see this blip for what it really is:

That moment when we were human.

That time, long ago, when God was shaping us into the perfect and complete being we’ll be for the rest of eternity—that once impossibly distant future where “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

It’s not hard to understand that we’ll look back differently on this lifetime once we have the perspective of immortality. The trick is learning to look at this life differently now—because that’s going to shape how we handle the moments in this blip.

Paul knew that. He had suffered through his share of trials and given up his share of sacrifices, but that didn’t faze him:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him … that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

(Philippians 3:7-11)

And what was his secret?

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 3:13-14)

When Paul looked toward the future, he saw the moment when his present would be his past—when the “things which are behind” would be nothing more than a blip in the rearview mirror. What mattered were “those things which are ahead,” and that’s what he spent his whole life reaching toward.

This life, everything that’s in it—the good, the bad, everything in between—one day, it’ll all be part of the stories you tell about when you were human.

Press toward the goal.

Until next time,

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