King David prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).
When we think about everlasting life, our minds automatically fast forward to the day we die, enter heaven and live with the Lord forever.
David’s request to “lead me in the way everlasting” does not speak about his future life in heaven but the one here on earth. He understood he had to make a choice to walk on this earth in the world’s way or in God’s everlasting way.
There is a huge difference between the two. The world’s way promotes ourselves and our own goals. Yet all the accomplishments and honors we achieve on this path will end when we die. Nothing will transfer into eternity.
God’s everlasting way leads us to submit to our Creator as Lord and pursue His values and goals. It puts us on a path where our character becomes increasingly Christlike. And when we die, all the fruit we bear will transfer with us into eternity.
God’s purpose in leading us in the everlasting way is to prepare us to be the Bride of Christ.
Paul Billheimer, author of Destined for the Throne, says our life on earth is a classroom. All that happens here—good and bad, joys and disappointments, successes and setbacks—God uses to get us ready for this glorious event.
Like Paul, we should come to the conclusion that whatever takes place during these few years on earth is just “momentary and light afflictions” (see 2 Corinthians 4:17) and is nothing compared to the glory that is going to be revealed in us.
So with eternity in mind, God continually works with each one of us that we may have the quality of eternal life here as though we were already in heaven.
Jesus, when He lived on Earth as a perfect man, lived with the reality that nothing He did was for time—it was all for eternity. Time for Him was only a limited period that allowed Him to fulfill the Father’s will for all that was to come beyond the cross.
So if Jesus, our example, lived with such an eternal perspective, we too should be more deeply concerned about preparing our hearts for the invisible eternal world.
When we ask the Lord, like David did, to lead us in the everlasting way, He starts us out at the very beginning of this path. He tells us “to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Our humility before God is absolutely necessary for any work God wants to do in our hearts. Knowing this, God arranges for us a classroom where we can practice humility, such as in our workplace, church and family. We may encounter an impatient boss, an unfriendly coworker or a hard-to-love Christian brother or sister. Let us not reject this training in humility, for it’s the foundation for every other eternal value God seeks to incorporate into our character.
In our earthly classroom, God not only teaches us spiritual lessons, but He also tests us so we will know how far we have come with our transformation. David actually volunteered for such a test when he prayed “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23).
God uses adverse circumstances to test the quality of our character and the motives of our heart and work. We find an example for such a test in the story of the prodigal son. The older son appeared to be a perfect, godly, upright and hard-working young man until his younger brother came home after living in sin and squandering his inheritance.
All of a sudden, the holy, wonderful older brother became so angry that he did not even acknowledge his own brother. Though the older brother had the appearance of godliness, the test revealed a heart void of love, compassion and forgiveness.
David’s prayer for God to search his heart was from a deep desire to walk in the everlasting way.
He wanted to be able to make corrections in his attitude and life until every minute he spent, every decision he made and all the work he did would have the quality of eternity.
May this become the desire of all of us who follow Christ.
Dr. KP Yohannan, founder and international director of Gospel for Asia, has written more than 200 books, including Revolution in World Missions, and international bestseller with more than 3 million copies in print. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.
Gospel for Asia is a nonprofit serving the “least of these” in Asia since its beginning in 1979, often in places where no one else is serving. Gospel for Asia supports national workers who are serving as the hands and feet of Christ by ministering to people’s needs so they can understand the love of God for them for the first time. Gospel for Asia is engaged in dozens of projects, such as caring for poor children, slum dwellers and widows and orphans; providing clean water by funding wells; supporting medical missions; and meeting the needs of those in leprosy colonies. Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope Program, tens of thousands of children are being rescued from the generational curses of poverty and hopelessness.
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