I am pleased to welcome Elisabeth Hanrion as a writer to our blog (you can read more about Elisabeth on our About Us page). Elisabeth reminds us that the most important things in life aren’t things, as she helps us focus on what’s really important in life.
Living in a house with five children and it doesn’t take long to see the evidence of their presence in just about every place imaginable.
Hours after cleaning the house it was in disarray. Again. Books were strewn across the table. Dishes filled the sink. Tiny footprints showed a path from the door down the hall. And even a baby doll was drying in the dish drainer after the toddler creatively covered her in marker.
It’s easy to lose heart when the evidence of so much work lasts little more than 24 hours.
We all want things to last. Whether it’s our furniture, our car, or our health. We want our lives to be good and get better. The temptation is to give in to frustration and discouragement when things we have worked so hard for break down, wear out, or are damaged.
As I took another look around the house, I wondered if actually I had it all wrong. Perhaps I needed an entirely different perspective. What if it’s actually a mercy to us that we see things all around us gradually getting worse and worse? The stains on the couch, the dents on the table, the marks on the wall. What if all of these things are visible reminders to us that so much of what we are focusing on is passing away.
Instead of dwelling on our ideas of how life should be, perhaps what we need to have the eyes to see beyond the tangible things in our lives to the unseen eternal significance behind them. The books are the table are more than stacks of things to be put away, they are proof that stories were read and the minds and hearts grew to know their Maker more deeply. The dishes in the sink? That’s actually a sign that not only were the children’s physical needs cared for, but their souls as well as the family ate, talked, and laughed together.
The things that really, really matter, those are the things that will last beyond this fleeting life and that is where our time and energy should be spent. We aren’t the only people who need to be reminded of this. When writing to the church at Corinth, Paul encourages them to have this eternal perspective, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
It’s truly a mercy that things don’t last here. All these evidences of things wearing out and breaking down are small reminders to us that they are in fact insignificant. When we spend our lives in love for Jesus and His people, our things will wear out and even we will wear out. But when we do this, we are choosing to look to and fix our attention on what will last.