PROGRAM W-1731 – Part I
Little things bother me much more than big ones. I can stress out more over a late flight or a broken nail than I do over significant issues. Not because I think the little things are more important, but because I so easily lose my perspective on how truly unimportant they are.
Years ago, I recognized that this was a major failing of my Type A, driven, and controlling personality—I knew I needed to change. But how? After all, I was born this way!
That’s when God began to teach me some valuable lessons about polishing my personality so that it becomes more Christ-like. True, he made me “this way,” but sin corrupted his creation in me, just as it has in all the universe. Although I don’t need to change my personality, I do need to allow his Spirit to smooth off the rough edges.
Having recognized this rough edge that needed some work, I asked God to give me a way to overcome my tendency to overreact and lose my perspective so quickly and easily. Prayer became my first and most important weapon in this battle. Then I heard or read a “gimmick” to use that has made a big difference. It’s a simple question I ask myself at those moments of diminutive-distress or trivial-trouble. Here it is:
What difference will this make in twenty-four hours?
I determined that any incident that would not matter in twenty-four hours was truly not worthy of any negative reaction on my part. It was a foolish waste of my time and energy, and contributed to much unnecessary stress. Furthermore, it almost always caused me to say and do things that were not wholesome, lovely, or a good testimony as an ambassador for Jesus Christ.
I established a rule for myself that I am not allowed to expend any energy or emotion on anything that won’t matter in twenty-four hours. This means I can’t get angry, upset, or frustrated about it—or about him or her—because the experience truly is insignificant in the bigger scheme of things.
This simple technique began to bring my personality disorder under control. I discovered that probably eighty percent of what upsets me at any given moment will not matter a whit in a short twenty-four hours. With one simple question, I was able to lower my stress levels, control my propensity to overreact, and smooth those personality rough edges a bit.
The secret to this little trick is to force myself to have a longer perspective. As soon as I can get my eyes off the here-and-now and look ahead—even a short twenty-four hours—my coping ability increases immensely. All this simply because I look at it long-term rather than short-term.
This simple illustration is what my book, Looking with Forever Eyes, is all about: Learning to have a long-term perspective. However, we need more than a twenty-four-hour outlook. We need an eternal one! The Apostle Paul reminded us of this when he wrote the following:
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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 (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
To analyze this statement from a strictly logical perspective, one would have to say that Paul was, at best, delusional, and at worst, stupid! To see what is unseen is a total contradiction in terms. Any first-grader can tell you that if you can’t see something, there’s no need trying to fix your eyes on it. It’s un-seeable!
Yet here we have the greatest Christian who ever lived, by most accounts, telling us to fix our eyes on what is unseen. This is another paradox of Scripture that appears bewildering at first. However, within the truth of this verse is a very straight-forward, simple, and life-changing principle.
I call it “Looking with Forever Eyes,” and it is, indeed, very simple. However, it is not easy. It is the process of learning to live now in the light of eternity and, quite frankly, it is in opposition to our inborn, natural instincts.
Much of the Christian walk doesn’t come naturally, I am discovering. Living by biblical principles has to be a God-thing—something that he does in me. It’s more than just being disciplined, hard working, or persistent. It has to begin with a motivation and a will on my part that is God-inspired and God-empowered.
“Motivation” and “will”—these are two key words that always determine success or failure. When I am properly motivated and absolutely determined to accomplish something, little can stand in my way. When my motivation is God-given and my will is God-empowered, I have what it takes to “do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). However, I have to relinquish my desires and my will to his control—and that’s the hard part. It’s what Jesus meant when he said the following:
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it (Luke 9:24).
It takes Forever Eyes to understand this verse. Earthly eyes will never motivate you to lose your life for Jesus. Here-and-now eyes cannot see why or how losing your life for Jesus would save it. But with the ability and the will to look with Forever Eyes—to see what is unseen—then you can see beyond the years of this earthly life and recognize the incredible blessing and joy that await you when you give up the control of your life to Jesus Christ.
If I take that simple question I have used for many years to help me keep my cool, and change it a bit, I could ask it this way:
What difference will this make in eternity?
Imagine the changes in your life if you determined that you would regularly use that yardstick to determine and control your priorities, your time management, your relationships, your dreams, and your aspirations. How much stress, frustration, anger, depression, and discouragement could you take out of your life if you simply asked yourself that question at least once a day?
Unused Forever Eyes
It must be noted that there are far too many who have been born from above and have been given these new eyes, yet they live their everyday lives without ever using their Forever Eyes. Either they don’t know they have them, they forget to use them, or they choose not to use them.
This is truly sad because to miss seeing the unseen things is to miss much of the joy, excitement, and uniqueness of the Christian life. Think about it: If you had eyesight that allowed you to read a sign a mile off, to see for two miles with clarity, or to see beyond the horizon, would you not feel very special? Nobody else around you would have such extraordinary eyesight, and that would give you an incredible advantage.
You could see trouble coming and avoid it. You could see good things up ahead and get there first. You would have more knowledge than those around you, more insight into what’s ahead, and you would be less likely to misjudge or miscalculate.
Because of Forever Eyes, those of us born from above have even greater, more miraculous vision. The advantages this offers us are phenomenal! We have the ability to do all of the following:
- See consequences
- Avoid temptation
- Establish correct priorities
- Make the best use of our time
- Love unlovable people
- Avoid the tyranny of the urgent
- Better discern people and their intentions
- Accept the uncontrollable
- Live a contented life
This is not an exhaustive list—there are more advantages than my mind can conceive. These, and more, are yours when you choose to look at life through Forever Eyes.
If you’ve got a set of these Forever Eyes, why not use them? Can you think of a good reason not to? Beats me! To have this ability and not take advantage of it is foolishness at best, and disaster at worst.
What difference will this make in eternity?
I hope this question will be emblazoned in your mind this week. I hope you will pray and ask God to show you how to live now in the light of eternity, and to give you his view, his perspective of every person, every situation, and every circumstance in your life. Believe me when I tell you this: Looking with Forever Eyes changes you; it reduces your stress; it increases your patience; it eliminates worry and strife. Ask God for Forever Eyes, won’t you? You’ll never be sorry you did.
As offered by Mary, dig more deeply into this topic of looking at life through Forever Eyes. Make a donation of any amount to the Christian Working Woman ministry, and we’ll send you a copy of this book, “Looking with Forever Eyes: How to Live Now in the Light of Eternity.” Call us today at 630.462.0552 to make a donation and receive this book.