In this life there are many things to prepare for, but the most important is for our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. I will take you with me, should you want to come along, on my personal journey to the door which will lead to eternity, through which every soul must pass. Where the angel of death waits to ask the all important question, "Are you prepared for the Kingdom?"

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Location: Anacortes, Washington, United States

Two years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was one of the fortunate ones who survived surgery along with chemo/radiation treatments. Recently, it was discovered that the cancer had returned and although I am again on chemotherapy, in all probability I have perhaps one more year to live. During these last months I would like to share what I have learned about the most important thing we'll ever do in this life and that is, prepare for the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Eternal Life

Whenever I would think about eternal life, I would think in terms of life after death. But eternal life is not only life after death it is here and now.

A friend and I were having a conversation sometime ago and we were discussing how we live. He said to me that I lived a life of self-denial because I was expecting to have eternal life after I died. I said to him, no, I can have it right now. But the only way to have this eternal life is by following those people who claimed to have found it, whose lives were living proof that they had.

When someone is living a virtuous life it's hard not to notice. They are a light shining in a world full of darkness. They have found eternal life.

And what is a virtuous life? For those of us living in the world, Saint John Climacus has this to say:

"Do all the good you can; do not speak evil of anyone; do not steal from anyone; do not lie to anyone; do not hate anyone; do not be absent from the divine services; be compassionate to the needy; do not offend anyone; do not wreck another person's domestic happiness, and be content with what your own spouse can give you. If you behave in this way, you will not be far from the Kingdom of Heaven."

Unless we are saints, which I for one am not, all of these things he describes for us are going to require some form of self-denial. The human will wants to please itself and follows the emotion of the moment, whether positive or negative, if it is not trained to do otherwise. Negative emotions never lead to a good place and positive emotions aren't necessarily good either if they lead to excessive self-gratification. So denying the will in these areas is essential. The saints became saints because they practiced self-denial. They knew the value of remaining faithful to God's will and by doing this experienced the incredible love of God. They discovered eternal life and so can we.

Christ says, "Enter through the narrow gate." This is not an easy choice, but it's the only choice in my opinion to true happiness and peace. I have chosen a certain way of life and I am now experiencing the fruits of that choice. In my current condition I should be devastated, but instead I can live peacefully. I am content with life and see things in a whole new light. The passions that once controlled my life are gone and have been replaced by a peace that the world cannot give.

A bit of self-denial is a small price to pay for the divine blessings that flow from a generous and compassionate God. It is my way of saying I believe in Christ and in the One who sent Him.

"For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:40


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