What Do You See?

IMG_0089[box] This post is a reflection from You and Me Forever, chapter 1.[/box] “One day, my wife will stand before the Creator and Judge of all things. What a staggering moment that will be! I can’t imagine any of us being ready for the shock of that day, yet Scripture begs us to spend our lives preparing for it.”—You and Me Forever, p. 10

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”—1 Cor. 13:12 (ESV)

“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”—Colossians 1:28, 29

What we see determines how we respond. We do this with our physical eyes while we are driving. If I see my exit coming up, I prepare by moving over so I can get off the freeway. If I see an obstacle in the road, I move out of the way (or pray that I can clear the roadkill as I drive over it!). If I see a detour, I will need to recalculate my route. The input I receive from my eyes determines how I maneuver the car, which sometimes means I move off my original path.

This doesn’t just apply to driving. I am sure that you can think of numerous situations in everyday life when what we see determines how we respond. If I see spilled milk, I clean it up. If I see a family struggling with a newborn, I bring them a meal. This is a small parallel, but this is the thought that struck me as I was reading these opening paragraphs of You and Me Forever. I am often so stuck in the temporal everyday world I live in that I do not live with an eternal perspective. There are days when all I can see are the mounds of laundry, the stacks of bills to be paid, the unending list of things to do. Compound this with the needs of a husband and children and there are times when I feel like it is all I can do to keep our family from imploding. You too?

But as I was reading this week, I realized that what I see with my spiritual eyes also impacts how I respond. If all I “see” is restricted to this world I live in, I will live in this plane. However, if what guides me is shaped by the spiritual realities that my God who loves me and watches over me is also with me at every moment, I truly can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13). His grace is sufficient for me when I am weak (2 Cor. 12:9). I can persevere through the hard times in raising our kids and homeschooling and working through adoption issues, all good things, because I can believe there is a reward waiting for us if I do not give up (Gal 6:9).

Paul’s picture of striving in his ministry (Col. 1:28, 29) has always captured me and inspired me in my own relationships with others. If, as he reminds us, we will one day see God face to face (1 Cor 13:12), what will I say to Him? Will He care about my stock portfolio and how well it did? Will He care about my record on the golf course or basketball court? Will He want to hear about all the vacations I took, the great deals I scored, the parties I attended?

My guess is that even if He did (for He is a gracious and patient Father), it really isn’t going to matter. When all is said and done, I am standing before Him, those things are nothing compared to the majesty and greatness of eternity. The things that I prized and praised, the temporal goals that I focused my eyes on will not even register when I stand before Him.

If that is true, then it really is foolish of me to focus on them here during my days on earth. If what I see determines how I respond, then focusing on eternity should have a huge impact on how I live today. If I remember, as Francis Chan reminds us, that my spouse, my children, my parents, my siblings, my friends, my neighbors, will one day stand before God, this reality will greatly impact what I do with them and how I spend my time.

Paul spent his days teaching and laboring, striving and toiling to present others complete in Christ. I almost imagine him viewing the people he ministered to as gifts to God. Every chance he got, he was encouraging them and pointing them to Jesus so that their faith may grow and bear fruit for the Kingdom. It was not just his passionate personality, but a conviction of an eternal reality that motivated him to speak of and share Christ at every opportunity. His eternal vision determined how he lived, his values, his purpose, his goals. It motivated him and strengthened him and tinted everything he saw with the glory of heaven.

Is that the way we live today? What would happen if we did? How would our lives look if we truly made it our number one goal in life to love God and love our neighbor (Matt. 22:38-40)? How would it affect how we look at people if we remembered that we are all disciples in the making (Matt. 28:18-20)?

The only things that really will last are the things of God and people. People are eternal beings, and they will live on, either with Him or without Him. If I truly take this to heart, then my days and my time and my resources will best be used if I invest them in the things of God and in people. It is what helps me to face conflict with my husband and seek counsel, even when it is embarrassing, so that we can build a stronger home and family. It is what drives me to homeschool my children. It is what encourages me to keep loving a child who does not respond to my efforts and stares at me blankly. It is what inspires me to teach and speak and write. It is what allows me to sacrifice the temporal things for what will truly last.

What we see determines how we respond.

What are you looking at?