At one time or another, we have all seen the bumper sticker wisdom, "Don't sweat the small stuff." It is certainly good advice. But the truth is we all sweat over all sorts of small stuff. Beyond the "small-fry" matters of life, there truly are weighty issues in our personal existence that, humanly, can be all-consuming. Personal issues such as a threatening disease, the loss of a loved one, a child who won't respond to our love, the loss of a cherished job, a business deal that's gone south, a marriage gone sour and, yes, for some of us, a God who seems far away.
Just for a moment, let's peel away the bumper sticker wisdom and go a couple of layers deeper to a basic reality check on our personal condition. Regarding any current problem, we might ask ourselves, "What difference will it make 24 hours from now?" Just think a moment. Is it truly worth the energy load that you have assigned to it and the heart distraction from those other matters that are truly worthy of our life's devotion? The truth is that some issues that confront us must be stacked up against nothing less than eternity.
Moving beyond the "urgency of now"
Fundamentally, this last thought means moving beyond the "urgency of now" to implement a long-range perspective. It's a different way of viewing things called, "living with forever eyes." It's a phrase and a concept expounded by Mary Whelchel in her book, Looking With Forever Eyes, published by Servant Publications. Its subtitle, "How to Live in the Light of Eternity," tells how she thinks God would have us travel through life.
But why bring this up in a publication like World News and Prophecy? Because, if we are "sweating the small stuff" now, if we are gasping for psychological air, if we are overwhelmed spiritually by some of the weightier matters of ordinary life—then we need to be reminded that biblical prophecy clearly indicates "there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time" (Daniel 12:1).
With this biblical reality check in mind, let's take some personal inventory. If we're sweating over the small stuff now, or even reeling under the very real burdens of our natural existence, how then will we ever handle the prophesied future when matters are going to escalate right off the scale? Let's look at the godly gift of "forever eyes."
Outlining the challenge
The passage in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 outlines the idea. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
"Forever eyes" are not natural. They are a spiritual gift! Speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:3, Christ said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Let's consider this analogy. Newborn babies arrive with a brand-new pair of natural eyes. When we are "born from above" by God's miracle, we, too, are given new eyes—"forever eyes."
Christ clearly states that they are given to us to see the vision that Paul so vividly describes—the Kingdom of God—which is that "eternal weight of glory." They are given to cure us of our natural shortsightedness, worsened by the paralyzing moments of our human frailties or by world events that swirl around us. They are given to us and the scales of our human blindness are lifted, so we can see how God is actively involved with our well-being.
Yet, with all this said, we can live as if they don't exist. Some may not know they have already been granted these eyes. Some may have forgotten how to use them. Saddest of all, some may consciously choose not to use them.
Just imagine, what an advantage!
But consider, for just a moment, what an advantage such vision can give! Mary Welchel asks whether we ever wonder what it would be like if we could see over a hill or read a sign from miles away. Just imagine! You could see trouble coming and avoid it or see something good coming and embrace it. With vision like that we could see consequences, establish correct priorities, make the best of our time, avoid the tyranny of the urgent, discern the intentions and motivations of others clearly, accept the uncontrollable and live a contented life! "Forever eyes" grant us God's perspective beyond our trying personal moments, beyond the troubling headlines of today's news.
"Forever eyes" change how we view time. God's Word tells us we have a limited number of days. In contrast, it also tells us our gift of salvation is eternal life. But for now, we are locked into a time cage of seconds, hours and days—an enclosed world of beginnings and endings. The reality is, our days are numbered and we don't know when our number is up.
Moses recognized that natural eyes don't look at time the way the ageless God does. Moses also recognized that at our best, we get locked into a world of "seventy years; and if by reason of strength...eighty years" (Psalm 90:10). He implored God in verse 12, "So teach us to number our days." Have you ever considered that Moses might have meant much more than living each day to its fullest? Have you ever considered that he might have been encouraging us to additionally look at our days now in relationship to all eternity? The focus is not on what is behind, but on what is ahead.
Eternity doesn't come cheaply
Eternity doesn't come cheaply. It comes at the cost of using the godly gift of "forever eyes" each and every moment—even moments that humanly don't always come with immediate gain.
It reminds me of the story of the young boy who got into a conversation with God. He asked God, "What is a million dollars like to you?" And God answered back, "It is like a penny." Then the boy asked, "And what is a million years like to you?" God once again answered, "It is like but a second." The boy then asked in a quiet, but excited manner, "May I have one of your pennies?" God paused and then replied, "Sure, but you'll have to wait a second." Eternity does not come cheaply; neither does it come all at once. That's why we must use the godly gift of "forever eyes."
Life is not easy. There are great successes and heartbreaking failures. Both are a part of life. Both can help make us complete in Christ. God often places what look like insurmountable walls before us that are actually bridges to eternity if we use our "forever eyes." "Forever eyes" focus on what God desires and they clearly see His saving power in our lives. They also clearly spotlight our part in the equation. And at times, the equation adds up to suffering to mold us into Christlike completeness.
Hebrews 13:12-14 gives us the assurance that we are not alone in our trials, neither are those trials lost on God. "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come."
It is obvious that the Holy Spirit inspired the author of Hebrews to tell his audience to stack up whatever they are going through, in the present or in the future, against that which is to come—glorious, worthwhile eternity. What small stuff is bothering us today that we won't even be thinking about in 24 hours? What big crisis is embedded in our life right now that doesn't amount to a "hill of beans" when stacked up against eternity with God?
Hold on to those "forever eyes"
God clearly makes a comparison between the eyes we are born with and our new eyes, the "forever eyes" that we are granted at our conversion. In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 Paul tells us, "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit."
Once God gives us this gift, He expects us to hold on to it and use it—now and always. It is not ours to stow away or to give away, nor can anyone take it away. For these eyes are actually the eyes of God given on loan to us. They are given to assist us in looking beyond the disappointment, despair and depression caused by events in our personal lives. They are given to Christians to look beyond the disappointment of our nation's turning from God or the emergence of a lethal system of church and state yet to arise on the world scene or the persecution by Satan of those "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17).
Perhaps the clarion call of Isaiah 30:21's resounding statement, "This is the way, walk in it," is best given voice by Paul when he says: "For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). Hold on to those "forever eyes," now and always.