I have a great love of analogies. They help keep things real and remind us of those things that are sometimes far too easy to forget.
Let us suppose we could watch two twins in a mother womb. As we watch these twins we notice, to our absolute horror, that the twins appear to be fighting. Like two siblings in the same room, they seem to be arguing and bickering with each other over the small cramped confines they find themselves in. Pushing, shoving, trying to get every last bit of space in order to stake their claim to as much as possible. Their silliness seems almost reprehensible.
What would we think about these two? How would we end these amniotic arguments? What would our advice be?
We would tell them to stop. "Don't you realize? Don't you understand? Once you are born everything is so much more real, so much more important, so much different. The very highest position you can achieve in the womb will seem so trivial when compared to even the lowest and most mundane of pleasures after you are born. In fact, NOTHING before you are born can compare to ANYTHING AT ALL after you are born. Nothing but the injuries you are causing to your twin will matter in the least. After having lived for 30 or 40 years, it won't matter which one of you had more space, which one of you had more power, which one of you was 'better off'. Will you even really remember?"
This is good advice for those two troubled souls. Fighting over so little as if it were so much is nonsense. But shouldn't we turn this around on ourselves? What do you think the 'great cloud of witnesses' would say to us? What would those that have gone on, those that understand more now than they ever did in life; what would those people say to us?
They would tell us to stop. "Don't you realize? Don't you understand? Once you are in heaven everything is so much more real, so much more important, so much different. The very highest position you can achieve on earth will seem so trivial compared to even the lowest and most mundane of pleasures after you are gone. In fact, NOTHING in this life can compare to ANYTHING AT ALL after death. Nothing but the injuries you cause to your fellow man will matter in the least. After being in heaven for 30 or 40 million 'years', it won't matter which one of you had more money, or a better car, or more entertainment. Will you even really remember?"
When we read of the martyr's we tend to feel as if their lives were cut short. A twenty year old being burned at the stake seems like such a loss. And so it is. I do not here mean to belittle their great sacrifice in the least. But after billions of years of eternity, will the fact that we ourselves lived 60 or 70 more years really be such a big deal?
We know that the eternal is more important than the temporal. We know that people are more important than things. But it is a daunting task to REMEMBER when everything else seems so 'real'.
We must ALWAYS, every second of every day, keep this eternal perspective.