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If you’ll go to heaven, then you have nothing to worry about…
It sorts of puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it? There are a lot of things to worry about in life, but only a few things that truly matter.
I was recently speaking at the 2016 Philadelphia Area Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference, and one of the other presenters shared a similar witty introduction to his workshop. Although we had very different topics that we were sharing with the hundreds of men that had gathered to learn more about how they could be equipped to be the men of God their families needed, there was a similar truth that was present in each of the workshops and from each of the keynote speakers. Our perceptions are influenced by our perspective.
If you believe that it is important in life to be happy, then you will make decisions in order to pursue happiness. If your perception is that having your health is the most valuable asset in life, then you will make decisions in order to pursue health. If, from your perspective, there is nothing that matters more with your short time on earth than where one will spend all of eternity you will make decisions to ensure that you, and potentially as many others possible, enjoy eternity in God’s presence. If your perception of reality is that life ends when you breathe your last breath, you will certainly live a very different life. You may try to seek pleasure and enjoyment while you can. As the Epicureans say, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” (see Ecclesiastes 8:15, Isaiah 22:13, 1 Corinthians 15:32)
What we aim for, what we value, what we set as a priority for our heart and our time are influenced by what we perceive to matter. Matthew 6:19-21 is a great Biblical challenge to set our priorities accordingly. When we take the perspective that eternal matters trump earthly matters we make more God honoring decisions. When you view that family member who has done you wrong as someone that Christ went to the cross to save and that He desires to restore His relationship with them you can then ask yourself two questions; will your response lead them towards or away from the cross? If your response will lead them to the cross, then you have nothing to worry about…
When you are setting priorities with your time, finances, or life goals, having an eternal perspective shapes your perceptions about what is important. If you believe it, it is real to you—even if it is not reality. All too many live for what they can taste and see in the here and now neglecting eternal realities and not setting priorities using an incomplete perspective on what truly matters. They are like those Jesus spoke of in Mark 8:18 who have eyes but fail to see. Pray that God will open your eyes to see your life as He sees it and allow what He reveals to you to correct and complete your inaccurate and incomplete perspective. Seek you have your perception of reality match real reality.
This then leads us to another question; are there any things that matter with our time here on earth? Mark Batterson, in his recent book if summarizes some research that suggests that earlier in life we tend to regret more “things that we did but ought not to have” than “things that we ought to have done but did not”. As we get older that shifts and by our later years in life we tend to regret most “things that we ought to have done but did not.”
When we reach the end of our lives we will have a very unique, once-in-a-lifetime, perspective about what matters most. By the time we reach the end of our lives it is often too late to invest the time and energy necessary to change those things for which we have regret.
What if? What if we began to live today with the perspective that we may one day encounter and began to do today what later we may regret that we had not done? What if, instead of merely surviving marriage we set out on an adventure to thrive in our marital relationship? What if, instead of enduring parenthood we moved heaven and earth to equip ourselves with whatever was necessary to be the best parents possible? What if we applied ourselves to becoming better communicators in all of our relationships? What if we strove to further our education, become healthier, become more forgiving, to become a better and healthier version of ourselves? What if we took our eyes off of mundane of the day to day and began living for those things that matter most to God?
It is possible, but it will be challenging. As Esther Kerr Rusthoi wrote in her hymn “When We See Christ”: It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus; …One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase; So bravely run the race, till we see Christ!” When you know that there is a better reason to run the race (and a great prize at the end) it has the potential to change how you approach each step of the way.
Take a new step today, with your eyes fixed on heaven and the humility to acknowledge that there is more than you may have known before. Expand and correct your incomplete and inaccurate perspective; challenge those faulty perceptions that have been weighing you down. Because there are only two questions you need to ask yourself, and you have the choice to answer so that you have nothing to worry about.