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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Eternal Perspective

If you knew preparing dinner this evening would result in an eternal reward, would the task seem less than boring?

If you believed cleaning your bathroom would endure beyond this life, would you do so with more purpose and joy?

What is the difference between the eternal and the temporal?

Might some of what we consider “daily” actually have eternal significance?

Scripture tells us that what we do is “wood, hay, and stubble.”(1 Corinthians 3:12-13). We know these things burn at the end of time. First Corinthians says only three things survive eternity: faith, hope and love. Piety for the sake of reputation is rewarded in full when recognition is given. There is nothing eternal about it. Something as small as a cup of water given in the name of Jesus, however, is eternal.

The difference is the motivation of the heart!

If we anticipate that all things are restored in Glory, have you ever wondered why Jesus retains the scars of his crucifixion? Could it be because those scars are the evidence of faith, hope and love? If this is true, would it mean that I could take dinner to my sick neighbor out of a feeling of social obligation with no lasting effect but refilling my husband’s empty water glass with the intent to minister in a tiny way to his needs lasts forever?

How many times might we, as women, perform a seemingly unselfish task that is secretly motivated by our own desires?

How often do we dismiss a “small” offering as insignificant?

Is it possible we have it backwards?

Is there glory in the daily?

When I drove up in my taxi cab at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many taxi drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself..

So I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated'. 'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said.

'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice'.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. 'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator... We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds.. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now.'

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse. 'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut... It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

I would encourage you to spend some time looking for the eternal in your life. Interact with your children intending to be a living picture of God’s love for His children. Submit to and bless your husband as an example of the Church’s devotion to Christ. Perhaps there is more to the daily than we realize. Perhaps an element of the victory will come in seeing earthly tasks through eternity’s eyes.

Oh heavenly Father, give me your eyes with which to see things. Help me to remember that this world is not my home and that my time here isn't about me. Rather, Father, it is all for your eternal glory. That is such a hard concept to grasp but one that I must seek to understand. Give me a heart for You above all else, so that just as your precious Son brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave Him to do (John 17:4), I too can bring you glory in the "daily".

Stop by and visit sometime... it'll be a joy!

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Blogger Homesteader in Training said...

Okay fine! You made me cry with the story! Great job Chelsey. You hit the nail on the head. I couldn't have said it any better.
Blessings to you my friend.

October 7, 2008 at 5:52 AM  
Blogger ChristiS said...

I'm glistening with tears in my eyes as well. How true this is. Thank you for reminding me of this, and I pray I will go through my day looking at things differently for many more days thanks to His word through you! God bless you!

October 7, 2008 at 6:26 AM  
Blogger Chelsey said...

Thanks Kim and Christis,
The Father has really dealt with me in this area. I had an incredible mentor that showed me this as it was her hearts cry up until the day she died. Now it has become my hearts cry to, that His glory shines through in all I do!

October 7, 2008 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so true. As women, our ministry, our very essence of being, is to serve our families. By fulfillin our role, we are building our treasure in heaven (if we do not seek praise here on earth).

October 7, 2008 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Thanks for touching my heart, bless you.

October 7, 2008 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger LauraLee Shaw said...

Important truths, Chelsey. Thanks for sharing them.

October 7, 2008 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

This brought tears to my eyes. There but for the grace of God go you or I.

October 8, 2008 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Betsy Markman said...

Oh, I need this lesson SO MUCH! I'm going to bookmark it and highlight it and refer back to it. Thank you for this!

October 29, 2008 at 7:51 PM  

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