Focus on eternal matters, not temporary troubles and challenges
Every day, a brain teaser like the one above comes across my feed, asking me to find the hidden word or number or letter or animal. Sometimes, I surprise myself with how fast I can solve the riddle; other times, I flounder and have to read the instructions and get a bit more direction as to where I need to focus my attention.
Don’t laugh, but sometimes God speaks to me through those silly little puzzles. He reminds me that so much of what we see is an illusion or isn’t quite what we think it is. And that sometimes, the truth is in plain sight!
This world itself isn’t quite what we often think and act like it is - a permanent fixture in creation that will go on forever. Not so. The world is temporary – and so is everything in it, eventually predetermined to be consumed by fire on the Day of the Lord – 2 Peter 3:10.
These bodies of ours are also temporary. Whether it be 15, 25, or 50 years from now, these bodies will return to the earth and become what Pastor Tony Evans calls “worm food.” These bodies are temporary – but our souls are eternal. And worms cannot touch my soul.
Yes, sometimes God sends me gentle reminders in unexpected and unorthodox places and ways – like little brainteasers that show up on my i-phone. And sometimes he gets on life’s loudspeakers and tells me that this is not my home.
In 2 Corinthians 4:18, His word tells us, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
So many of us get it twisted. There is an ocean of difference between what is temporary and what is eternal. Our perspective on those matters can determine the difference between the level of peace we find in living our lives. We get laser-focused on the temporary (money, career, outward appearance, sex) and that can lead to a lifelong struggle to find contentment.
If we can focus on the eternal, we can oftentimes lift a heavy, heavy burden and see beyond the natural, see beyond what is in front of our faces and even what our feelings tell us. Feelings can be fickle.
The temporary can fluster any one of us on any given day. Today for instance, I had a minor fender-bender out of the blue and I kept thinking afterward – just three more seconds earlier or later and this would not have happened. I just didn’t know what to make of it. Now I have to make time in my day and go through the time and expense of getting minor front bumper damage repaired. I didn’t think “This could have been so much worse - I could have hurt someone else or myself.” Not until later. My immediate perspective was not eternal – it was annoyance.
The temporary can consume us – our bodies need more and more attention as we get older. Our jobs require our time and effort. We have to take care of our families. The state of our finances can throw us out of whack, especially if they are lacking. Keeping up with ourselves is hard enough, but then there’s the state of the world. You have boorish, loudmouthed politicians who dominate the airwaves, you have moral lunacy staring you in the face every single day. And on, and on, and on.
I want to train my heart and my mind to spend more time focused on the eternal. C. S. Lewis observed, "All that is not eternal is eternally useless."
It would be very difficult to be always focused on the things of Heaven. As many pastors have said, “We can be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” Ouch! But what we can do is learn balance. Balance allows us to replace the stressful, worrisome thoughts concerning the temporary with joyous thoughts about the eternal.
Through the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:5, God issued us a tall order when He said, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Whew – every thought!
Let us remember that this world is not our home. These lives are God-given and so precious – such incredible gifts from the breath of almighty God. By His grace, we need to live in the present and make the most of it. But we must remember that there is a doorway beyond this life with treasures for His children who believe on and in Him that we simply cannot comprehend.
An unknown author said it so much better than me:
Everything in this world is temporary. Life changes. People come and go and seasons never last. So no matter what you’re going through right now, always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. Don’t give up! Put your hope in God. You will overcome it all.
We can have moments of bliss in this life, but we will never be completely happy here because we were created for something much better. Can you imagine a fish living on land – that wouldn’t last very long? If you and I can realize and embrace the fact that life here on earth is a temporary assignment, we will much better face the temporary challenges of tomorrow.
I do enjoy those puzzles on occasion – sometimes I solve them and sometimes I don’t. Just like the puzzles and challenges of life. Realizing that life on earth is just a temporary assignment should alter our values we hold close.
Eternal values, not temporal ones, should be the deciding factor in our decisions.