“I need a bigger map than this,” I complained. “I need to see my whole route.” The image on my GPS only showed the next several hundred yards in front of me. But that wasn’t enough for me. I needed to see my present location in relation to where I wanted to end up. I needed a bigger picture.
Of all the lessons the Lord has taught me in the past 45 years, I think the most powerful teaching has been that of gaining a bigger picture. We live in the moment, in the hours of our days, looking at our weekly schedules and our monthly calendars, planning big events a year or more ahead. We plan for college educations and retirement and think we’re wise in our future forecasts. But life isn’t just about our plans for the here and now. Life – real life – is eternal, and the greatest lesson I’ve learned is to have an eternal perspective in all things.
I’m learning to evaluate every situation and circumstance and consider what kind of impact it will have in eternity. Is this struggle I am in going to change my eternal destiny? Will this difficult season continue on eternally? Yes, this life hands us some very hard and painful things, but this life is also temporary, and eternity is—well—eternal, it’s forever and ever and ever. Just prior to our key verse, Paul wrote: “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (v. 17). Though they often do not feel “light and momentary,” in the reality of eternity, they are just one tick on the clock of forever.
I’m also learning to let the words I say pass through this eternal filter. Several years ago, God gave me a verse to motivate me towards my calling: “If you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be my spokesman,” (Jeremiah 15:19). I’m making an intentional effort to speak and write “worthy words” that have an eternal purpose. I ask myself, “Will the words I’m about to say have an eternal impact?”
This eternal perspective affects my desires too. When I start to feel the pinch of envy, I remember that Jesus is preparing an eternal place for me that my brother’s beautiful, custom-built home can never match. I will wear a robe of righteousness forever that no fashion designer could ever create. I will have a perfect body that doesn’t require hours in a gym. Even the events of this world don’t seem so overwhelming when viewed in the light of eternity.
Thinking back to my GPS, when we have a “bigger picture” of life that culminates in eternity, we understand the journey we are on and the route before us. We can traverse twisting roads, sharp turns, long stretches and detours with the assurance that none of these will stop us from reaching our final destination – heaven and the presence of God forever. Beloved, I encourage you to widen the view before you and trust the One who is leading you. This life with all its heartache and struggle is part of the journey to your perfect eternal destiny. Let’s travel on together with our hearts set on forever.