90 Minutes in Heaven, Eternity, Relationships and Observations about Life

I recently read this book (via Kindle), 90 Minutes in Heaven. Being a Christian, it intrigued me that someone had died, gone to heaven, then returned to tell us about it. I found his story to be credible and have no reason to doubt his experience. It aligns with other books I’ve read on this topic. I also saw his interview on ABC News, Beyond Belief. Again, I thought he was credible.

Anyways, I’ve found myself viewing life from a more eternal perspective since reading the book. Some of the tougher decisions in business take on new meaning when you look at them through the lens of eternity. And many personal decisions, desires, hopes and dreams take a different perspective when you’re viewing them in light of eternity. There isn’t much that matters on this earth, frankly. While I desire to be the best business owner I can be (and I have a loooooonnnnnng way to go on that front <sigh>), most of what I do is temporal in duration. Yet how I do it is eternal in nature. Will it matter 100 years from now? Most of what I do probably won’t matter. So, what does really matter? I would submit that the organizing principle of our lives should be our personal love for God.

When Christ transforms our lives, we have the unique opportunity to connect what we do and who we are on this earth to our eternal life. Beyond what we do for God, the core of the Christian life focuses on our personal love for God. It’s not that I love God in a generic sense, but in a personal sense. This is one reason why a personal relationship with Christ is so vital to the Christian faith and to our eternal destination: I finally get to be with the one I love the most on this earth throughout eternity – a love that was birthed and nurtured on this earth, but is fully fulfilled in heaven.

You can’t love someone without knowing them. Intimacy isn’t created on facts and knowledge. It’s created on a personal love and a deep risk of letting someone know you, warts and all. Before we do anything for God, we should first love him. This is why, I think, in Matthew 7 Christ said to those who had done wonderful things for Him on earth – “depart from me, for I never knew you”. It wasn’t about the doing – it was (and is) about the loving and the intimacy.

I have a number of good friends who are either divorced or are contemplating divorce. It’s painful and sad. In every situation, there exists a loss of intimacy and love. The reasons for this loss are varied. But all of them involve common characteristics. When I was a psychologist, I used to say that there are 6 “A”s that lead to divorce: Affairs, Abuse, Addictions, Abortions, Anger and Apathy. I observed that relationships could survive any one of the A’s (if both parties wanted it to survive and were willing to work hard) but two or more, and the relationship would eventually fail. It was predictable. I didn’t like it, but it was predictable. Then there were the 6 “C”s that lead to intimate relationships: Christianity, Character, Communication, Compatibility, Commitment and Chemistry. (I had thought about writing a book on this, but never got around to it.) If both persons in the relationship had a personal relationship with Christ, that would develop character which would lead to their ability to communicate and then they would learn about their areas of compatibility which would give them the opportunity to decide if they wanted to commit which then allowed for the chemistry to flow. What I learned is that relationships could be destroyed by what one party did – their actions could destroy a relationship that had taken two people to build. But a relationship built on love and intimacy could not be built by one person – it took both people to build it and maintain it. And the building of the relationship was not based primarily on what they did, but on who they were.

This is one of the reasons why Christianity makes so much sense to me: it is built on two people loving each other: the love God has for me and the love I have for him. And because Christ transforms us, He gives us what we need to enter into a relationship Him. At its’ core, Christianity is not a set of theological beliefs, but rather a relationship between the believer and God. And that relationship is personal, real, vibrant and dynamic.

You know, life’s greatest pains come from our relationships. And our greatest healing comes from relationships too. This is another reason why a personal relationship with Christ is so important – to have a relationship with God brings the deepest and highest levels of healing and peace, even if our life is stormy and uncertain. And that is why, in the midst of running a business, making tough decisions, facing uncertainty in our economy and political structures, that I can look past all of that with a peace that doesn’t make earthly sense and be able to have hope and joy for the present and the future: The one I love the most I get to spend eternity with. Very cool. Very exciting.

Yes, I want to be successful in business. I have a stewardship responsibility to do the best I can at being a CEO – which is not as easy as people think. But in the long run, what really matters in eternity is the quality, intimacy and love you and I develop with God Himself. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart….” Look, am I the poster-boy for how to love God? Are you kidding me? Hardly. But my imperfections don’t take away from the truth that loving God with a view to spending eternity with Him should be the organizing principle of our lives.

My encouragement to you today is that if you’re world is spinning out of control, if you’re finding yourself constantly worrying about tomorrow, if you’re uncertain about your future, then find your anchor in Jesus Christ. Give your heart, soul and mind to Him. Give Him your affections and learn to love Him personally and intimately. And you’ll find a peace and a visceral anchor that can transcend this world’s tribulations. And you’ll find yourself yearning for the day when you get to see Him “face to face”.

Bill English, CEO