Leonard Ravenhill once wrote, "Five minutes inside eternity and we will wish that we had sacrificed more, wept more, grieved more, loved and prayed more, and given more."
Yes, the moment we step into eternity, we will see the unveiled glory of God, the fullness of the beauty of Jesus, the immensity of the grace that was poured out on us, the massive debt that was paid on our behalf, the endless splendor of the world to come and the horrors of judgment that we have escaped. Yes, at that very moment, just "five minutes inside eternity," we will wish that we had been more devoted to the Lord.
Who among us will not wish that we had told more people about the Savior?
That we had been less ashamed of Him?
That we had loved others more?
That we had really explored the possibilities of faith?
That we had walked in greater intimacy, greater obedience and greater devotion?
That we had taken full advantage of the opportunities set before us?
Who among us will not think, "If only I had realized how everything I did on earth for the Lord would be so multiplied in heaven, I would have redeemed the time so much better for the Master's work!"
"If only I had a better perspective on eternity, I would have made my life count all the more for the Lord!"
"If only I had truly grasped the infinite resources of my heavenly Father, I would have trusted Him more, stepped out in faith more and taken advantage more of the promises and power of prayer!"
As D.L. Moody once said, "Next to the wonder of seeing my Savior will be, I think, the wonder that I made so little use of the power of prayer."
Yes, "Five minutes inside eternity and we will wish that we had sacrificed more, wept more, grieved more, loved and prayed more, and given more."
But we will not wish that we had spent more time watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Internet.
We will not wish that we had given our hearts more to sports, fashion and entertainment.
Or saved our lives rather than lost them for the gospel.
Or stored up earthly treasures rather than invested them in God's work.
Or kept the message of the cross to ourselves even more.
Or read the Word of God less so we had more time to read novels or follow the stock market or master a hobby or exchange meaningless texts.
Or indulged the flesh more.
Or talked less about Jesus.
Or given more time to bodily exercise to the neglect of our fellowship with the Lord.
Or put even greater emphasis on outward appearance while neglecting our inner man.
Or spent less quality time with family and friends so we could devote our time to selfish pursuits.
Or cared more about what people thought than what God thought.
If only we could have the perspective of eternity written on our hearts even now! As Catherine Booth once said, "There is nothing like the light of eternity to show what is real and what is not."
Of course, we will not make any spiritual progress by beating ourselves up or putting ourselves under a set of man-made rules or trying to pressure ourselves into lasting change. Fleshly efforts will only produce fleshly results, and guilt trips do not produce liberty.
But there is nothing stopping us from meditating deeply on the truths of God's Word, from asking Him to "stamp eternity on our eyes" (as Jonathan Edwards prayed for himself), from seeking the Lord with holy desperation, asking Him to help us live lives worthy of His name.
There is nothing stopping us from walking in the light that we do have, from dealing ruthlessly with sin, from making a determination to stop making excuses and blaming others, from refusing to waste our time when we could be spending it fruitfully with our Father or with others—all by the help and grace of God.
There is nothing stopping us from asking the Lord to break our hearts with the things that break His heart and imploring Him to shatter our indifference and expose our shallowness.
There is nothing stopping us from praying that He would send His refining fire to burn away the dross in our lives, to prune us of all impurities and to ignite within us a fresh love for Jesus.
In fact, rather than focusing on the regrets you will have five minutes into eternity, why not stop now—even for five minutes—and cry out to God to help you live your life in a way that makes sense in the light of eternity.
And then do it again the next day and the next and the next.
Five minutes inside of eternity, you will be eternally grateful that you did.
Michael Brown is author of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.