Mr Eternity — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Mr Eternity — Morning Devotions

Arthur Stace, who wrote ‘Eternity’ in chalk around Sydney, remains part of its folk history. Which road are you on? Where will you spend your eternity?

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsWednesday 22 Dec 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes

I don’t know if you’re old enough to have ever seen the word ‘Eternity’ written in chalk around the streets of Sydney. Maybe you have, but I don’t recall seeing it.

But the name Arthur Stace remains part of Sydney’s folk history, as was the Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Year’s Eve 2000 when the word ‘Eternity’ was lit up in a blaze of lights. It certainly was a spectacular sight. Millions of people watched this dazzling sight on TV across the world—suspended from an arch of the bridge.

The story of Arthur Stace

But not everyone knows the life story of this remarkable Christian man, Arthur Stace who died in 1967 aged 83 years. He was known as Mr Eternity and was born in 1884 in a Sydney slum. His parents were alcoholics as were his brothers. By the age of 15, Arthur himself was addicted to alcohol, and got himself into trouble with the police for criminal activities.

He enlisted in World War I, and saw the horrors of trench warfare and returned home having lost the sight of one eye. But he was in more trouble with his drinking and crime. But then in 1930 he attended a meeting for ‘needy men’ as it was called. There were about 300 men in the meeting, most of them were there for the free food.

But they had to listen to a sermon first. Arthur was impressed by some of the men there who were committed Christians, and he felt an urge to be like them. At the end of the meeting, he left the hall and knelt down under a fig tree and cried out to God for mercy. God answered his prayer and he was converted to Jesus Christ. He was a changed man.

The powerful message of a simple man

Then in 1932 he attended a church service where Rev. John Ridley preached a sermon on eternity. He put aside his prepared notes and shouted out the word ‘eternity’, and said, “I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it—where will you spend eternity?” This echoed in Arthur’s own heart and mind. Later on he said:

Eternity went ringing through my brain and suddenly I began crying and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write Eternity. I had a piece of chalk in my pocket and outside the church I bent down right there and wrote it—the funny thing is that before I wrote it I could hardly write my own name. I had no schooling and I couldn’t have spelt Eternity for a hundred quid. But it came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t.

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And so, for the next 33 years, he went out into the streets of Sydney at 5.30 each morning, going wherever he felt God directed him, and wrote the word ‘Eternity’ every 100 or so metres. Arthur Stace wrote that word, in that elegant copperplate, in chalk and in crayon, on the sidewalks of Sydney—over half a million times.

We need to think about eternity

It’s important for you and me to think about eternity—where will we spend eternity the minute after we die? A minister went to visit an old man one day. The pastor said, “At your age you should be thinking about the hereafter.” The older man replied, “Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am—in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement. I ask myself What am I here after?

Christian author Phillip Yancey said:

Although [most] of us believe in an afterlife, no-one much talks about it. Christians believe we will spend eternity in a splendid place called heaven—isn’t it a little bizarre that we simply ignore heaven acting as if it doesn’t matter?

Does heaven matter?

I think the ultimate question still is: Where will you be one minute after you die?

Jesus said there are two roads in life. He said:

“Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people will find it”. (Matthew 7:13-14).

The broad road leads to judgment, destruction, and hell. On that road people seem to be having a wonderful time. It’s a party atmosphere. But there is emptiness, loneliness, and insecurity. The narrow road, on the other hand, leads to heaven. Travelling on that road is difficult because it goes against the grain of society, the tide of all pleasures and the sins of this world.

On this road there is fun and laughter too. But there is a sense of destiny, a distinction of hope, an assurance of something better to follow this earthly existence. Our motto is, The best is yet to come. Which road are you on? What will be your final destination? Where will you be one minute after you die?