Redeeming the Time

I have been thinking a lot about how I am living my life, and what kind of legacy I want to leave.  All around me, I see people in pain, both physically and emotionally.  I just heard of another shooting or rampage from reading one of my friend’s Facebook news feed; the government in my country seems to be in constant turmoil, and just the anger around me, seem to tell me that there has to be more to this life than I can see.  I am not getting any younger, though many people may consider me to be still young (note to them: Thank you for your generous outlook on me. 😉 ) I realize that I won’t likely live forever.

So, in light of that, I posed a question to myself: If today was my last day to live on earth, what would I do? How would I spend it? Would I consider doing anything differently?  This post is also based on the verses in Ephesians 5:15-16:

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (KJV)

 

Here’s what I would do, and the lessons I draw on redeeming the time that I still have now:

  1. If today was the last day of my life on earth, I would tell my family and friends that I encounter, both online and offline, how much God and I love them, and how valued they are. I would also thank them for all they have done for me, to make my life better. — Too many times, we let days, or even, sadly, many years, go by without really taking time to value and thank those around us who have made a positive impact in our lives.  I would also let my family and friends I encounter know that they are loved and valued by me, both by my words and my actions. In other words, I would spend most of the day serving them with joy and gratitude.  I think we (me included) need to do a better job of doing this every single day, because the fact is that we don’t know when our “last day” is.  It could be tomorrow, next week, next year, five, ten, fifteen, or more years from now. I think we are not given knowledge of when our last day on earth is because if we were, we would probably waste our other days and just revel in whatever, without doing anything of eternal value, or at least that would be the great temptation.  Since we are not given that knowledge, we are more able to serve others sincerely and with our whole hearts, if we really think about the limited nature of our beings.
  2. If today was my last day on earth, I would not waste time getting angry at trivial things, or things that wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.—I have observed that many times we, as humans, get upset about the little things people do or don’t do or say, that if we died wouldn’t be a big deal at all. For instance, a lot of people would get upset if a friend of theirs seemed to ignore them when they said “Hi” to their friend. First of all, the friend may be busy or may not have noticed that they said “Hi”at all.  Second of all, if this friend who “purposely” ignored you, was a good friend in other instances, like he or she was there for you when someone you loved died, wouldn’t it be a good idea to just let this go?  If I knew my life was limited, I would not worry about or even consider being upset at such things.  Also, some of the things that people get angry or upset about reflect, not only their own self-absorption, but also that they are not thinking about how limited and precious life is.  For instance, to my shame, I got upset at a co-worker over something so trivial and so selfish on my part, that, in retrospect, I should have just let it go and focused on other, more important eternal things, rather than my own comfort.  If a few people don’t appreciate the effort I put into work, I would instead focus on the people that do care and not worry about pleasing or getting upset over the 5% (I’m just picking out a random, small number, to make a point.) that don’t.  If there is a cranky customer who just wants to get it out for everyone else, I would just feel sad for them and pray for them, instead of getting upset at them myself.
  3. If today was my last day on earth, I would spend most of my day:
    • Spending time with God (40% of my day)—I would spend more time with God in prayer and in reading and listening to what He has to say via His Word (the Bible). I would want to prepare my heart and soul, for what I believe would be a glorious and awesome eternity with Him!  However, I would also want to make sure that there was no unsettled business between God and me, or between God, me, and another person. I would seek forgiveness for any sins (moral mistakes) that God reveals to me, and seek to fix them as soon as I could.  I would want to leave this world knowing that I put significant eternal and spiritual investment in it—that I cared enough to ask God to do His will for the world.
    • Serving others (40% of my day)—I would spend another part of my day just serving others. If I were scheduled to work that day, I would do my very best work possible, and strive to help customers, other associates, and managers to complete the tasks for that day. If I were not scheduled to work, I would spend my day volunteering in any way God directs me.  I would spend a good part of my day just getting to know those around me better, and to be there for them in their lives. I  think we all need to do that more every day. If we spent more time getting to know other people’s life stories (For the post on life stories, see  this link. ), and less time  being “too busy” for people and being engaged in meaningless chatter or tasks that don’t need to be done right away, we would be more able to be flexible in serving others and truly be able to invest positively in others’ lives, even our own families!
    • Resting/ down time (10% of my day)—Of course, I would want to spend some part of my day just relaxing and having some down time. Since I still am a little introverted (and even for some extroverts), I need time to recharge so that I will have the emotional energy to serve others and focus on what I need to.  Some way I would love to relax (and ways you can, too)  are: 1) Observing nature and its beauty. 2) Listening to soothing music.  3) taking a short nap  4) reading .

This is how I would redeem my time here on earth. While I don’t think I would do anything drastically differently, I would have a much more reflective and purposeful attitude about how I lived my life. Even if today or tomorrow are not one of my last days here on earth, I still aim to redeem the time I have here, because these days can be tough.

What would you do to redeem the time you have here? Would you do or say anything differently than you are now? Please feel free to comment.

 

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Creating a Legacy: Living with Purpose

Over the past few weeks, I have heard and/or witnessed one of my dear friends almost dying, going to a funeral of a friend that I hadn’t been able to see for a long time, my pastor getting sick, various people holding grudges against one another (thankfully, not me), and the stress of my workplace getting tested by our company.   In all these things, I believe God has been teaching me to a.) make my life count, and  b.) create a lasting legacy for my life.

I hate to be morbid, but we will all die someday. This is why I believe it is imperative to live with purpose, and create a legacy, not only for ourselves, but also for future generations that may not even know our names.

Even when I was at the lowest depths of my depression, I thought about my purpose in life. I knew that where I was then was not where I wanted to end up, in the final moments of my life.  Yes, I have always had happy moments in my life, despite the looming depression, but I had never really realized lasting joy until recently.  Little by little, God has shown me how to live powerfully, with lasting and great purpose. I believe that anyone here can live their life with purpose and can make a positive and powerful difference in the world around them.

Here is what I learned about living life with purpose:

  1. If you want to live your life with purpose, you cannot be a half-hearted individual.—I see a lot of people around me going through life, not only struggling just to survive, but also without aim or purpose. I was that way when I was growing up. If I was aware that I would forget some of what I learned in school or that I would never see 90% of my peers that I grew up with up until now, I am afraid I would have done more things to get them over with, without any heart, or passion, in what I was doing.  However, during the past five or so years, God has taught me how to live my life with passion and purpose. For more information about finding a purpose in your life, read this post.  At work, for example, when I go into get-things-done mode (a.k.a—doing things to get them over with), I find that I am much less effective in getting said things done right, than if I did them with concentration and put my heart into what I am doing.  This is true for other areas of one’s life as well. For example, if you are married (I personally am not, just my observations of relationships I see) and you do things for your spouse just for duty’s sake or get him or her off your back, you are less likely to please him or her, than if you did said things with thoughtfulness and heart.
  2. If you want to live your life with purpose, you must be willing to forsake certain things.—We all get distracted in life. However, when living your life with purpose, you want to limit these distractions as much as possible.  For instance, if you are living with the purpose of being there and providing for your family, you want to work enough that everyone is adequately fed and provided for, but not so much that you won’t have any meaningful time to spend with them.  So, in that example, the person who wants to be there and provide for his or her family must get a job that would adequately provide for everyone in their family and that they won’t have to work too many hours, at the wrong times, so they can be there for their family.   For me, my purpose in life is to glorify God and love others. This means I must actively strive to forsake things that would prevent me from carrying out this purpose, such as listening to or watching media that promotes the hatred of or devalues my God or others.
  3. If you want to live your life with purpose, you must persevere. –If you want to create a lasting legacy, you must not give up on life, or your purpose, even when it gets tough. For instance, if part of your purpose involves making a positive difference in certain relationships in your life, you must not give up on these relationships when tension or difficulties threaten them. In my life, to my shame, l almost gave up on several people, who hurt me in the past. However, I believe God didn’t allow me to, and something (or Someone) in me kept me from giving up on these people completely. Thankfully, these relationships are restored, and I am able to be, not only a friend to them, but, hopefully, make a positive and lasting impact on them, as well. For another example, if you want to be successful, career-wise, you must not let obstacles get in the way of your goals.  You must not let a couple of failures or bad days at work, make you quit your job completely, if you aim to be successful career or work wise.

 

These are the principles that I have learned in helping me to live my life with purpose.  If you want people to remember you after your time on earth is up, you must live your life with passion, be willing to forsake certain things, and persevere through it all.  If you want to be remembered well, I believe investing in other people’s lives, instead of only your own, is a good place to start. Yes, it takes work to live with purpose, but I believe it will be well worth it in the end.

Things I Learned From the Movie “I’m Not Ashamed”

As of this writing (July 5, 2017–publication will come later), I watched the movie “I’m Not Ashamed.” Although it is slow in parts, this was a pretty good movie and has taught me some very important lessons in life. This movie is based on the true-life story of Columbine martyr, Rachel Scott, whose life of faith and love has inspired me to pattern my life after hers. I also consider her to be one of my five faith heroes I list on my blog’s front page.  Here’s what I learned about life through the telling of Rachel Scott’s story through this movie:

  1. Love, compassion, and perseverance go a long way.—Rachel’s love, compassion, and perseverance not only in this movie but also in her real life, have also inspired many (like me) to pattern their lives after hers.  For instance, Rachel sees a guy taking the pizza from her youth group and was looking standoffish, and then he quickly leaves. Instead of ignoring him, she follows him into the street where he incidentally was living and confronts him.  He later tells her that his name is Nate and to basically leave him alone. Knowing something is off about him, she persists and when he tries to steal food from a store to feed his ailing mom, she volunteers to pay for them with her meager paycheck.  She doesn’t just stop there but continues to show him love and compassion as he eventually accepts Christ and grows in his faith. He then ends up helping her through tough times too.  Also, when Rachel’s best friend Madison steals her then-boyfriend Alex, and Rachel catches them making out together, Rachel, by the end of the movie, ends up sending Madison a note of compassion and forgiveness for having betrayed her (Rachel).  Most people when betrayed would either try to take vengeance on the offender or stay away from them and cut off relations completely with them. However, Rachel persisted in showing kindness and forgiveness to Madison even after she was betrayed by Madison. By the end of the movie, Madison also is touched by the forgiveness and love Rachel showed her before she (Rachel) died.
  2. Christians are not perfect.–Rachel was not the perfect Christian. She got in trouble by drinking and smoking with her girlfriends and her attempts to pursue a popular, attractive guy in school put her in situations where she wasn’t comfortable.  She snuck out of her parents’ house–probably more than once. In the movie,  it was even shown that Rachel attempted suicide once by jumping off a bridge near her home because she was so depressed. This does not mean us Christians are  “bad” or “evil” people, but like everyone else, we come with problems and baggage. However, like I explained in #1,  Rachel picked the dust off her feet, so to speak, and tried to do better next time, just like we all do, regardless of belief or lack thereof.
  3. Everyone has a story.–In the movie, Rachel’s story was intertwined with those of her killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Also, there were snippets of the story of Nate, Alex, and several of Rachel’s friends. The point is, though, that everyone has a life story, and if we care about changing the world for the positive, we need to listen to these stories! Sure we can’t “fix” everyone’s problems, and we probably shouldn’t always be trying to either, but if we know where people are coming from and their life goals and motivation, maybe we can encourage and support them better.  Also, knowing other people’s stories helps us not only understand them better but also our own life story and how theirs can intersect beautifully with theirs.  For instance, I believe God is using the people I work with, especially one of my managers, to help create not only a better life story for me, but also for them as well.

Though no one is perfect or better than another human being, showing love and compassion like Rachel Scott did will go a long way to change our world for the better.  However, we must persevere even when life gets difficult in order to see results.  We must also learn others’ stories to help not only we understand them better, but also ourselves better. Be a light to this world; it may just start a chain reaction!

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (But Notice What’s Important)

DISCLAIMER: Please no negative or disparaging comments about the guest author or me here. Thank you. Also, this post is guest written by my friend and co-worker Ron Weimer, and also by myself.  This post was made through interviewing and collaborating our thoughts and ideas together.

We’ve all probably heard the phrase, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” right?  It may be difficult for many people to do, but we believe it is necessary to live a successful and joyful life.  Don’t sweat the small stuff basically means not to worry about the little things of life or things that are beyond our control. If we don’t sweat the small stuff of life, we will be better off for it. However, this is how to not sweat the small annoyances of life and what to do when big stuff does overwhelm you:

How not to sweat the small stuff:

  1. Don’t think about the little worries, but keep focused on the task at hand.—If someone calls you “stupid,” cuts you off in traffic, or bumps you in line, we can choose whether we will be so upset with them that it will ruin our entire day, or to shrug it off and just chalk it up to their rudeness. For instance, if someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of cursing them and honking your horn, just shake your head at them and continue driving.  It’s no use to get angry at every little rude thing that people do to you.  If someone calls you a name like “stupid,” you don’t have to retaliate or get upset, though I admit it’s difficult not to, just try to walk away from that kind of verbal abuse, and continue on the task at hand.
  2. Try to always do better and stay optimistic. —When you make a mistake, just try to find ways to improve yourself. As I (main blog author)  said in the last post, making a mistake, even a moral one, does not necessarily mean you are a “bad” or “horrible” person.  Everyone makes mistakes. We are humans, not machines.  It takes time to learn something new or form a new habit (most sources say about 90 days).  Also, stay optimistic. Try to see hope even in the pain. I know it can be difficult, but one way to stay optimistic is to ask yourself, “What can I learn about this?” or if you are religious, “What is God teaching me through this?”  There is always a lesson to be learned from everything, sometimes even multiple lessons!
  3. Don’t give up.–I (main author of this blog) always tell people that as long as you are alive, there is always hope. In many ways, that is true!  Don’t give up on life, even when you feel like giving up.  When you give up, you stop learning, and you stop being able to be better as a person. I know I have struggled to keep afloat in life many times, but thankfully I have people around me who encourage me not to give up on myself or others.

Four principles that can help you and others not sweat the small stuff, and should be done regularly, if not every day: 

  1. Laugh–Find humor even in the most annoying situations.  For instance, when a client or customer calls you “stupid,” and you have graduated from high school and/or college, you can laugh at the ridiculousness of that statement rather than get offended at that person. You can chalk it up to their ignorance and lack of knowledge of reality, just as if someone said to you, “You’re purple! ” when you are obviously not at all purple!
  2. Cry– Ron and I don’t mean crying at everything that offends or hurts you, or in anger at someone, although that sometimes is OK too.  However, we mean to cry at something that moves you emotionally–like a thoughtful card, a heartfelt compliment, or seeing someone else do something nice for another person. I recently cried when I watched a movie that moved me.
  3. Never give up.–Ron and I agree that everyone should keep on keeping on and not give in to failure.  If you fail at something, at least you know a way not to do it again. Mistakes can be good for you because you can learn from them. Making mistakes or sinning does not mean you are a failure or irredeemable, but human.
  4. Make a lot of friends--One way to do this is by simply following the Golden Rule–that is, treating people the way you want to be treated yourself.  For instance, if you would like people to validate you, look in the mirror. Do you validate others? Another way to make more friends is by not only talking about yourself and your interests but taking an interest in others’ lives.  Ask them about their hobbies, their passions, their past,  their goals in life. Also, genuinely take an interest in them as a person. Never use people solely for your own benefit or needs, though one benefit of having a lot of friends is you can network more easily.  The more people in your group, or network, the more support you are going to have and can be available to help when you have a problem or an issue.  However, also be sure to be willing to be available for your network of people if they need support.

What to do when big stuff overwhelms you (DISCLAIMER: This is not an all exhaustive list of “Big Stuff” but these are the ones that Ron and I discussed and are most common to everyday people.):

Death of a loved one

  1. Spend time with loved ones.–When you lose a loved one–whether a family member or a dear friend,  spend time with the ones that knew them best. Exchange stories about the good and/or the funny memories you had with the lost loved one. Exchange the best and most memorable photographs you had of that loved one who passed away. Imagine with your other loved ones how great life would be when you all get to see him or her on the “other side” if you are religious or spiritual.
  2. Make time to grieve your loss.–Don’t hold in all your sadness and grief.  Spend a couple days to a week at least to grieve.
  3. Take time out.–Take time for self-care. Do something nice for yourself. Rest physically and emotionally from anything that tends to drain you. This may be a job that you have or a person who is more challenging to you. Rest from those people and things that drain you the most. I don’t mean to completely cut that out of your life but just take a break.

Losing a friendship/ relationship

  1. Take time out.–Take time for self-care. Also, allow yourself time to think. Ask yourself: What happened to cause the loss of the relationship or friendship? Is this anything I can change? If so, how can I change this? Did I do something to offend the other person, or did we just become distant naturally?
  2. Talk to another friend, if you have one. If you don’t, take the time to evaluate yourself and your principles. Ask yourself: What is it that drives people away from me? Why am I a friend/relationship magnet for toxic people?
  3. Seek professional help if necessary.– Sometimes things get too overwhelming for you to deal with on your own, and even for people around you who are untrained to deal with emotional or psychological issues well. It’s OK to ask for professional help. In fact, Ron and I agree that everyone probably should at least once in their lifetime.  We can’t do this alone.  Seek out recommendations from friends or reputable websites to see if they have a good trained counselor or therapist in your area. Someone once said, ” A person who doesn’t seek help when they have a problem, will create the same problem with another person.”

Losing a job:

  1. Take time out, especially if you got fired.–Take time out to regroup and reflect on the situation at hand.  Ask yourself: Did I do something wrong? And if so, what can I do to improve? What was the reason for the loss of the job? Being depressed or disappointed is a natural feeling of losing a job. Embarrassment is too. Nothing is wrong with you if you feel these emotions. They are valid.
  2. Tell your family.–If you got fired, or even if you got laid off, tell your family or loved ones the truth. They may be disappointed in you, but they may be even more disappointed and upset if you hide the truth from them, and then they find out the truth from some other source. Moreover, they probably won’t trust you as much anymore.
  3. After a few days or weeks- Start looking for a new job. Tell the supervisor (s) at your old job if you got fired that if you use them as a reference that they won’t mention your firing and the circumstances surrounding it. Most of them will be supportive and want you to find a better fit for you.  Also, never lie on an application. The truth will find you out eventually. Always tell the truth!

This is how to not sweat the small stuff, and how to overcome some big obstacles in your life.  Never give up on life, because your life can be used to be a benefit not only to yourself but to others. Also, life is too short for sweating the small stuff.

What I Learned From the Movie, Miracles From Heaven

DISCLAIMER: Contains movie spoilers!, sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_from_Heaven_(film)

Last Sunday night, my mom offered to watch a movie with me that she thought I’d like. It was called “Miracles From Heaven.” Wanting to spend a little quality time with her, I agreed. It turned out to be one of the best movie decisions I’ve ever made in my life! I learned so much from this movie about how to live life, and here are some of the main lessons I learned from that movie:

  1. Sometimes you have to go through the storms (i.e: pain) in order to see the sunshine (i.e the miracle or blessing). –10 year old Annabel (Anna) Beam started experiencing vomiting, intense stomach pains, and almost died, before being miraculously cured of her illness after falling into a hollow tree hole.  In the movie, Anna is depicted at one point as wanting to die because her pain is so intense. She no longer cared about life and became very depressed. However, after she was saved, life had a new purpose. However, if Anna had never gotten sick, she wouldn’t have seen God’s grace intervening in her desperate situation.
  2. Live life as if everything is a miracle.–Near the end of the movie, Christy Beam (played by Jennifer Garner), Anna’s mother, begins before telling about Anna’s miraculous recovery by saying, “Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, ‘You have two choices as to how to live your life. Live as if nothing is a miracle, OR live as if everything is a miracle.’ ” Because Christy’s daughter’s life was saved, Christy began to see everything as a miracle and as precious, because she almost lost her beloved daughter and almost lost her faith in the process!  I can relate to this too, as I almost lost my life three years ago when the doctors found out that I had an enlarged gallbladder (She said it was twice the normal size! ) and that I had gallstones. If that gallbladder had burst, and I had waited longer to go to the ER, I would have most likely not be here writing in this blog today! More on this story, go here.  God suddenly reminded me of this event after I watched this movie and remembered the quote about living as if everything were a miracle.  Today, I remembered that quote as I was going about my work at my job and felt really joyful because I had remembered and realized just how blessed I am to be here and to be able to meet all the wonderful people at my job. Truly, everyone I have met, especially those that I have known for less than three years or had helped me through my illness is a testament to my miraculous life!
  3. Be grateful for all those people in your life that helped you succeed or get you through life .—In the movie, Christy pays tribute to all those who helped her and her daughter Anna through her (Anna’s) illness. She thanks Angela, the waitress who befriends Christy and Anna and walks them through the ordeal so they would not have to suffer alone. She thanks Dr. Nurko who treats Anna, and the receptionist who barters for a last-minute opening for her (Anna) despite her mother not having an appointment for her.  She thanks a guy friend at Anna’s school who temporarily abandons his other friends to befriend Anna so she does not feel alone in her illness.  She thanks the guy at the ticket counter who lets Anna’s father and her siblings go on the plane free, so they can see her at the hospital.  Christy does this not to gain attention, and not because she is some holy-roller, but because she realizes that she and Anna couldn’t have made it alone.  I can certainly relate too. For instance, if it had not been for the many doctors, nurses, and the surgeon who operated on me in 2014, I would not be here today. Also, I want to give a shout out to my parents, sibling, and my friend K who came to see me a few days after surgery so I wouldn’t feel alone.  Without all these people and more in my life, I wouldn’t be where or who I am today. So, thank you everyone. And I especially want to thank God, who I firmly believe made this all possible!

This is just some of what I learned in the movie, “Miracles From Heaven.” It’s a great movie; I highly recommend it.  (If you would like to purchase this movie, please go to the links in my “recommendations” section. ) It may be slow in parts, and it may not be for everyone, but if you want to live your life with more passion or purpose, this movie is a great supplement to get you thinking about life more deeply.

What matters (and what doesn’t) in eternity

DISCLAIMER: The following post is based heavily upon my Christian values and beliefs. If you disagree with this, please do so respectfully and graciously, or your comment will be deleted! Also, just because I say something “doesn’t matter” in eternity, doesn’t mean I don’t care about it at all, or that it doesn’t have its place in our lives.

This is a kind of Part 2 on my last post about cultivating an eternal perspective on life. This post is to help people cultivate that eternal perspective and by doing so enjoy and treasure life more.  I will also be adding WHY something matters or doesn’t in eternity.

What matters in Eternity:

1) How you treated God: The number one thing that will matter in eternity is how you treated God. Was He just a genie in the bottle that had to grant your every wish for you, or was He the omnipotent, amazing, loving, worthy-of-worship God to you?  This is a question every human being must answer, not only with their words, but in how they live their lives.  Your relationship (or  lack thereof) will determine (I believe) where you will spend the rest of eternity. If you feel you need to make things right with God today, please do so! I would not only pray the “sinner’s prayer,” but resolve in your heart that you are really going to follow Him wholeheartedly and without abandon. Yes, there are times when we all are going to fail at that, but if you are sincere and repentant of that, God will forgive you and love you all the way through it.  You will find that God is worthy of everything you are and have that is good!

2) How you treated others: The other big thing that will matter in eternity is how you treated others.  Did you treat other people with sacrificial kindness and care, or did you ignore or abuse them? After you die, God and other people will not just remember how you treated your loved ones or ones that were your friends, but also your enemies, people that were difficult to get along with, and the hurting and downtrodden that couldn’t really pay you back for all the kindness (or lack thereof) you bestowed upon them. It says in Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV):

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

So, do good to others, even when they won’t  or can’t “pay” you back. You will reap great rewards in heaven if you do, because whatsoever you do to who Jesus calls, “the least of these,” you are doing to Him too. Don’t weary of doing good.

Things that won’t matter in eternity

  1. How you look like–No, your physical appearance will not matter at all in eternity. Have you ever been to a funeral where people have said to you, “Oh, your Aunt Etna (apologies to anyone who actually does have an aunt by that name; I don’t mean her) was so fat. How much did she eat? ” Of course not! Things people will more  likely say: “Oh, your Aunt Etna was such a kind, generous person! I wish I could be more like her.” OR “Poor Etna. She was so sad and didn’t have any friends. I wish I could have been there for her more.” It won’t matter the color of your skin, whether you were fat or thin, how beautiful or ugly you looked like to other people, or even if you had any deformities or scars (unless someone hurt you, and the police are investigating them).  So, in light of this, I fail to understand why some people spend so much money on their physical appearance! Yes, you should take care of your physical body God gave to you (It says in the Bible that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.), but you shouldn’t obsess  over it!
  2. How much money you have—I understand that we need money now to live and to enjoy things. I get that. However, if one is constantly worrying about money or how to obtain it, or is stealing money from others just in an attempt to get more, this is really a fruitless way to live because I believe there will be no need of money in the afterlife. Also, you can’t take your earthly money with you as an “investment” in the afterlife.  It’s impossible.  Better to be generous with the money God gave you than to steal or swindle it. Better to be at peace with what income God has given you, than to be constantly worried about it. It’s understandable though if you are worried about money because you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. However, try to trust God with that too, because He will provide somehow.
  3. How many things you have—-Connected to that, getting more things will not guarantee eternal life! It won’t matter how many or how few things you have, because you are going to lose it all after you die anyway because you will have to leave all of it behind.  No, you really don’t have to keep up with the Joneses! And just like everyone else, the Joneses also will have to leave their material things behind when they die, so will their children when they (the children) die. So, how can you make your “stuff” matter in eternity? Simple. Be willing to share and give away (I admit that I am working on that still, but it’s a process for me). What will be remembered is not the stuff you shared or gave away, but the impact that you had on people when you gave it away or shared the stuff.
  4. How smart you are—Unfortunately, intellect will not matter in eternity either. For instance, if  you have a lot of knowledge and still choose to sin and/or reject God’s love for you, you still would have to live with the consequences of that no matter how “smart” you were or claimed to be!  That is not to say we shouldn’t keep learning and gain knowledge, but gaining knowledge and intellect shouldn’t be an end to itself either! Gaining knowledge and intellect should be a way to glorify God and to minister to others’ needs.

So, equipped with the knowledge of what matters and what doesn’t in eternity, you (and I, too) will hopefully find this helpful to focus on eternity more and less on the temporal stuff and “cares of this world” that don’t matter as much in the light of eternity. Let’s make a difference for eternity today!

 

How to Make an Eternal Impact

DISCLAIMER: This post is primarily directed for Christians.

If you have been a reader of any of these humble ramblings for any length of time, you know that many of my posts have been written out of what God has been teaching me about myself and about life, and I’ve wanted to share them with you in order that you can (hopefully) apply them to your lives as well.

This is probably one of the most significant posts I will ever make about what God has been teaching me, and probably one of the most challenging for me. Though I struggle with not being able to make an eternal impact for God sometimes, God has been constantly chipping away at my sinful Self to make sure it stays Dead and He stays alive in me.

Here’s what I have learned from God about how to make an eternal impact:

  1.  In order to make an eternal impact, you must have an eternal perspective on life. Whether or not you have an eternal impact on people depends primarily on your attitude and perspective on life, and how you carry that out in your words and actions.  For instance, a guest speaker at our church relayed to us a story about a guy on his campus (The guest speaker is the president of a school.) that was so entrenched in his video game that when asked by this guest speaker how he (the guy) was doing, the guy said, “I’m on level five.” This guest speaker aptly questioned this guy’s motives, saying something like,  “Is the fact that the guy was on level five going to be remembered by people after he dies? Will the fact that the guy is on level five going to bring people to Christ? Is it going to encourage people?” The obvious answer to those questions is a firm “No.”  The guest speaker* also warned us not to be distracted by minutia like that-Minutia being the stuff, while it can be good, distract us from a more eternal perspective on life. The guest speaker (and I, too) am not saying that we can’t ever discuss the temporal minutia stuff or that it doesn’t sometimes have its place in life. However, don’t make the temporal an idol or so important that you become obsessed with it!   So, how do you focus on the eternal? God taught this to me in my most depressed, down-in-the-dumps moments of life. Think about how you  want to be remembered after you die more. This is not to say, think about suicide! This is to say, however, to think about your legacy more, how   you want to leave this world and how you want to impact this world. Also, think about God and heaven more, especially in times of distress  or suffering. Don’t only think of God and heaven as a reprieve for suffering, but also for refocusing yourself on God and His current (good) plan   for your life, even if you can’t see the good.
  2.  Be willing to die to self and sacrifice for others. This is what God has been working through me for literally years, and probably will continue to   do so until the day I die. I have found out that when you live completely for yourself that it is isolating and it starves your soul of connection and  love. This is because the completely selfish person does not care or take into consideration the needs of others, and so cannot give love to others freely and beautifully as the person who cares about others. This is not to say that there are never times when you have to take care of yourself,    but if you are completely enamored with caring for you alone, it will be isolating not only because you can’t (and won’t) give love to others, but  also  others are much less willing to give love to you. So, to combat that, be willing to die to self and practice being sacrificial even when it may    not be  “comfortable” for you. One way to do that is to dedicate your life to serving others without expecting others to repay you for what you   have done  for them. Another way is to love and serve your enemies. Do you have a difficult boss or co-worker (if you have a job), or do you have a   family  member that’s hard to get along with? Love and serve them. Write an encouraging note to them thanking them for any good qualities you   see in them. Help them put away groceries. Serve a meal to them. Work hard for your boss.  It’ s true that you may not get the recognition you   want  from  them immediately (or ever), but Jesus says in Luke 6:35 (ESV-bold type mine) that, ” But love your enemies, and do good, and lend,  expecting  nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and   the evil.”
  3.  Be willing to learn new things everyday, including from your mistakes and moral failures (i.e sins).  Have a teachable attitude (as I discussed in    the last post about being humble. Read books on diverse topics; be willing to listen and to learn from other people other than yourself.  Be willing  to look at another’s perspective and find out why they think that way, not to refute them, but to understand from where they are coming. Invest   in and learn about social justice issues like abortion, poverty, injustice (how to combat it of course), sex trafficking (and how to stop it of course),  and the environment.  If you have knowledge about diverse topics (I admit that I’m working on this still!), then you will be able to relate to more   people and can integrate better Christ’s love for you and for them. Learning more about others and what they are interested in also shows that you  care about what they like and about them as a person.

Hopefully, by some of these things will make your eternal impact more significant. Don’t be like Esau, who sold his birthright (eternal impact) for a single meal (temporal impact)! Make sure you are doing things that matter not only in this life, but also the next!

 

(*Guest speaker was Marty Marriott, president of Marantha Baptist University.*)