Yesterday, about midday, a wonderful, Godly man that I knew years ago, passed away after a long, and valiant battle with cancer. He was a good guy with a quick and gentle smile. Soft-spoken, loved by his family and community, and devoted to God.
Early this morning, just before dawn, my wife’s close cousin stood by the bed of her son, along with his young wife, and they watched him take his last breaths. He was a successful young businessman, a loving father and husband. He was at peace with God and the world. In the wee hours of the morning, his not-quite-so-long battle with cancer ended.
In between those two events, I wrecked my car. No one was hurt. No tickets were issued. But my nice little Lexus that I really liked, is probably totaled. Had to be towed ignominiously off the street. I had to ride through town beside Jeff, the wrecker driver, while people turned and stared at my crumpled car and me in my Branches shirt.
I was reading this morning again, the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 18. “So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now, rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” Another translation uses these two words, temporary and eternal. “What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Those are two drastically different categories. Temporary, going to be over, has a beginning and an end, will be forgotten at some point. Eternal, going to last forever, matters more than anything in this realm, will never, ever, ever end. I mean, I am trying to decide whether to pay for the 3-year extended warranty on the Keurig I am buying at Walmart, and Paul is saying there are some things that are ETERNAL. That changes things, doesn’t it?
There is stuff, a lot of stuff, well, let’s be honest, almost all stuff, that really is not that important. It is “here today and gone tomorrow,” to quote Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. It is transient, fleeting, and feeble. And it certainly pales when compared to the things that will last forever. And it’s the latter things, the forever items, that should get my attention, not the long, first list of stuff that will be gone one day soon. In light of that, my perspective should be different.
Jesus says, “Don’t worry.” “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘And so I tell you not to worry about food…or clothes…God clothes the grass that is HERE TODAY AND GONE TOMORROW…won’t He be all the more sure to clothe you?” Luke 12
Peter says, “Live right.” “Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?” 2 Peter 3:11
And Paul says, “Keep looking up.” “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an ETERNAL house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1
I was thinking about getting one of those label makers and going though my house, labeling everything in the appropriate category. Maybe I would do a red label, TEMPORARY, and a green label, ETERNAL. 64 inch HDTV with voice activated remote, TEMPORARY. Wilson N-Code 5 tennis racket with new grip and strings, TEMPORARY. Latest bank statement showing a big dip in my Scottrade IRA account, TEMPORARY. That’s the problem, it would all be red labels, TEMPORARY. “We don’t look at what is seen but what is UNSEEN…”
So back to the list I started with, smashed Lexus, temporary.
Riding through town in a wrecker, temporary.
Branches and Branches shirt, temporary.
Even the pain and sorrow surrounding my friend, Steve, and cousin, Justin, temporary.
But the Godly life of those two men, the fact that they gave their heart to Jesus, where they both are right now, this very minute, in a new house, built by God, ETERNAL.
The events of the last 48 hours or so have reminded me again that this world is not what it is all about. The presidential debates, the pandemic, the global economy; all important things, but every one of them, temporary. I get worried, worked up, and worn out, throwing most of my emotional energy into the stuff that headlines and Facebook are made of. The bulk of my interest, the majority of my conversations, where my “gaze is fixed,” all on temporary things. In all honesty, most of my time and talent goes to either complaining about or trying to gain the temporary stuff.
This morning I am remembering that those things will end. Time spent teaching my grandkids Bible verses, prayer moments that I have with a hurting friend on the telephone, devotional times with my men on Thursday morning, and walks with my bride talking about Jesus, eternal. Those are the things that matter and that I need to focus my attention on.
This morning there are two precious families, one in Michigan and one in Ohio, that I am pretty sure, are not the least bit interested in the temporary stuff. They are totally looking at the eternal. My prayer is that they might know “the love of Christ, … the love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesian 3:9) That, and His peace, ETERNAL.