Perhaps someone you know has an annoying, irritating habit. Very likely, so do you – though you probably aren’t aware of it. A very dear person in my life –someone I love – has a habit that, should I say “almost drives me crazy.” I stew when I see it. I sulk. I give her looks of disapproval. The more I pursue an end to her habit, the more she pursues “showing” me that she will not change. I waste valuable time in frustration.
This has gone on for years without even the slightest change. Are her actions hurting me? Not at all. Are they directed at me? No. It is simply a matter of her habit “getting on my nerves.”
Maybe you have someone like that, too. It could be that they pop their knuckles, play constantly with a strand of hair, laugh too loudly, talk incessantly, or chew with their mouth half open. They might intrude into your space constantly, blink their eyes habitually, or bite their lip. When they pray, they could say, “Dear Lord Jesus” after every other word, or look straight past your face when you are talking to them.
Are you thinking about that irritating person? I thought so.
One day, while I was in the midst of anguish over this person, a thought dropped into my heart. I did not seek it nor did I plan it. I believe the Holy Spirit gave it to me concerning this irritating habit. Simple and to the point, it was absolutely profound in content: What has this to do with eternal realities?
The words hit me with a thud, but immediately made sense. If I believe I’m bound for eternity, then that fact should give redeeming and freeing substance to my everyday life. Taking this a little further, if I believe that eternal life starts now, then when I spend so much time worrying over something that irritates me, I limit God’s power and use of me today. Stress and worry can hinder me from hearing God’s perfect will for my life.
Jesus says, “This is eternal life, that they may know Him, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). According to Jesus, we don’t wait until death to begin living in eternal life. We start when we begin to live for God and for His Son. If eternal life is “knowing God and Jesus Christ,” then my job as a Christian is defined. Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.”
What does this have to do with eternal realities? has an amazing calming effect on me. When I am near this person and her habit, I concentrate on this statement. It helps me get things in the right perspective. Shifting my thoughts to the important takes my focus off of the unimportant. Besides, most people won’t change what they do just because it annoys another. If any changing occurs, if usually happens in the mind and heart of the one being annoyed.
This thought can be a guide in other areas of our lives, also. Every day, we have the opportunity to shun worries, fear and difficulties, and pursue eternal life. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:18 that we are to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Praying, What does this have to do with eternal realities? takes our thoughts off of ourselves, our critical spirit, our need to have everything go our way, and places our thoughts on more important issues, like our eternal salvation in the now and beyond.
In the 1700s, fire and brimstone preacher Jonathan Edwards prayed this prayer: “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” Yes, Lord, help us see beyond the disappointments of today, the irritating habits of others, into the glorious eternal life you have for us right now.