In an internet devotional site, Encouragement for Today Daily Devotional, a daily thought written by Tracy Berta, challenges us to consider how meaningless things really are in light of eternity. Those of you who have been in MOPS have heard me say that Joe always had this handle on things to keep me in perspective: “What will this matter ten thousand years from now?” So when a woman who was being abused sought refuge in our home with her obviously damaged children and one of them threw something in the living room, breaking an expensive and treasured wedding gift, my first thought was: ten thousand years from now this will be forgotten. While the mother was terrified of losing our support, anxious to replace it (which she never could have afforded to do), I could truly assure her it was no big deal. In the light of her terrible circumstances, it was indeed trivial.
To provide perspective, you have heard me remind you moms, in the throes of potty training, biting, “potty mouth,” and all the endless challenges of mothering preschoolers, that I have never seen a normal 16 year-old yet wetting their pants! (Plus, when they are teenagers, you really have bigger concerns! Just wait.)
But what about the Big Guy? What about when Daddy is late (again) and dinner (again) is dry and crusty? What about when his clothes are all over the bathroom floor? Do we consider ourselves justified to grumble and complain (and maybe we are)? Could we gain some perspective by remembering that we are judged by what we have done unto others? You have heard me share the story of Candace’s little foot in the sandal, for the 1,042nd time one day, and the gentle reminder that popped in my head: “What you have done unto the least of these you have done unto Me.” Well, we cannot so easily excuse the Big Guy, can we, after all, he is a grown up. His mother ought to have taught him better. He is just thoughtless, careless, rude, demeaning—oh, you have heard all those adjectives in your head, too?
We can hug our little “justified” grievances, or we can obey God’s higher calling to: “Do everything –even picking up someone else’s messes—without arguing or complaining so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” (Philippians 2:14-16, NIV)
Could it be that the toasty dinner or scattered clothes are there simply as a test for us, a test of our eternal perspectives—after all, ten thousand years from now they won’t matter, but for all eternity our reaction to them will. If we lose it, screaming and fussing, or do the martyr thing –Sigh—we have our reward, maybe an apology, maybe some sympathy, usually a pity party to which no one comes. However, if we give grace, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and joy, that will be multiplied back to us in this life, and we might just hear God say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
I hope I will improve in my ability to become more like God, to forgive as He forgave me, to pour out love, grace and mercy, as He is wont to do. Remember: children, husbands, difficult friends, teach us far more than we will ever teach them. Just keep it in perspective!