Tuesday, May 04, 2010

You can't take it with you!

“You can’t take it with you!”–or can you?

That famous phrase takes for granted that this life is all there is. A one-shot deal. So, when you die, you leave everything behind. But from a Christian standpoint, to what extent is that true?

For one thing, we don’t know, on this side of the grave, how much continuity there is between this life and the afterlife. Will God carry over the best parts of this life, and this world, into the next world? Take whatever was best here-below and make it better in the hereafter? (In addition to whatever is distinctive to heaven itself.)

Beyond that, there are some things a Christian can take with him. If you have children who die in the faith, that’s something you can take with you–sooner or later.

Some answered prayers also have repercussions for the afterlife. Suppose you pray for a lost friend. If God answers your prayer and saves him (or her), then that’s something you can take with you.

In this respect, our prayer-life is a bridge between this life and the afterlife. Even more than just a bridge. For there’s a sense in which our prayer-life is transitional to the afterlife insofar as answered prayers play a creative role in what the afterlife will be like.

We don’t merely hope for heaven. Rather, there’s a sense in which prayer can actively shape the contours of the afterlife.

Of course, prayer has no autonomous power. God planned our prayers, and planned his answers.

Still, answered prayers are a factor, not only in history of our fallen world, but answered prayers in this life can also have eternal consequences, and thereby affect the world to come.

So, in some degree, heaven is what we pray for–within the will of God, if he answers our prayers. An investment in the future (as it were). Putting our treasure in heaven.


  1. Encouraging thoughts. Thanks.

    "For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy."-Paul

  2. Yes, insight-full too!

    Here are a couple of Scripture based prayers I pray:

    Rom 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.


    1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"
    1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
    1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
    1Ch 16:34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

  3. "That famous phrase takes for granted that this life is all there is. A one-shot deal. So, when you die, you leave everything behind."

    Just a small (cute) point :P... the phrase actually seems to suggest the person (the 'you') is going somewhere, somewhere after death. It seems to mean something along the lines of "where YOU are going, you cannot take your worldly possessions with you." On this reading, the phrase does not mean this life is all there is.

  4. Steve, I pray that the Lord will answer your prayers beyond all your wildest dreams :-)