My dog has lost her bounce. When she first moved into our home and I made an effort to keep her in specially designated areas, I was disconcerted by her ability to leap onto couches and beds. Although she’s quite a little dog, she was able to leap up to about a metre high, and did it with ease. I had never owned a dog before and was always amazed at friends who allowed their dogs into their homes, in my way of thinking dogs were outdoor pets. That changed as soon as Monique became one of the family, now my beautiful poodle climbs into bed with me. It took her all of about a week to win me over to the joys of doggie companionship.
Monique is now approaching 15 and she’s finding it difficult to leap up onto my bed. The first time this happened she looked up at me with such a surprised and downcast face my heart went out to her. What else could I do but log onto ebay and buy her some dog steps? The day after these rather fragile plastic steps arrived, a friend came to visit and I was telling her about Monique’s reluctance to use her new steps. My friend thought she’d help things along by giving my pooch a demonstration on climbing steps. Crunch!
The steps weren’t made to carry humans, but I wasn’t too worried, I knew I could tape them up and they’d be good as new. My friend was horrified and the next time I saw her she gave me another, more robust set of dog steps she’d found on ebay. So now my beloved hound has 2 sets of dog steps she refuses to use. There they sit, side by side at the end of my bed, tripping up passers by with a sort of dumb relish. You can almost hear a little snicker coming from beneath their plush covers when yet another person kicks their toe.
I bought the dog steps to help my little fury friend enjoy her life and face the future with a better outcome, but she just doesn’t trust them, and she refuses to even give them a try. This made me think about how God has designed a Way for us that is perfectly tailored to meet our needs, even though we, as yet, have not even identified those needs. Despite the fact that He knows our circumstances better than we could ever know them ourselves, we hesitate to even try His program to enhance our future.
I often hear people talking about going to heaven, or that their loved ones are in heaven, but I know from God’s Word that this future is not guaranteed to those who refuse to use God’s steps. We don’t have the ability to bounce ourselves into heaven and the reality is that Jesus proclaimed that He is the only Way to heaven, there is no other way (Acts 4:12). Most people seem to like the idea of ascending to some eternal abode, but they find it difficult to trust God’s Word about His Way and Truth.
I’ve taken to leaving little treats on the top steps so Monique will come to see them as less threatening and merely a way up to the place she wants to go. Perhaps if Christians started actually telling those who don’t yet know Jesus the real gospel, that is, that the Father wants to give them eternal life rather than see them perish (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9), which is the default position, it would inspire more trust than the unbiblical scenario most “official” churches proclaim.
This “official” doctrine insists that the unsaved will either be eternally subjected to suffering and pain or abandoned in some outer darkness forever. The God this scenario represents at the top of the steps is not the Father I know and love, and He is not the God of the Bible. Eternal punishment (Mat 25:46) does not mean God will allow isolation, pain or suffering to go on forever, it means this punishment will have eternal consequences, and those consequences will be irrevocable.
Our Father knows it would be unendurable for people to live eternally, conscious of their fallen condition – He has made a Way for us to be changed into incorruptible people through the righteousness of His Son. People need to understand that God’s steps are for their ultimate good and the only Way to be part of God’s eternal kingdom is to use God’s revealed solution to the problem of our sinful natures.
We need the gift of eternal life through His Son to ascend God’s steps. Without the gift of eternal life the only alternative is eternal euthanasia, eternal destruction (Mat 7:14: Romans 9:22; Php 3:19; 2 Thes 1:9; 2 Peter 2:1, 12, 3:7). God has set His steps before us, we need only determine to trust Him and use His revealed program for our eternal future, because without Jesus’ gift of eternal life we can have no eternal abode.