Eternity Is Not A Platitude

Do you ever hit yourself (or others) in the head with religious platitudes?

Joe’s pretty frustrated.

His team at work pointed toward this big evaluation day for weeks. Everyone bought in, did a little extra, took some real pride in a job well done. He said you could feel the excitement, the sense of teamwork and accomplishment.

Except that it didn’t work out—they missed it by that much. An “A-“ instead of an “A” had the whole team in a funk. Nothing big, just a couple of little things someone missed, and now they faced disappointment.

Joe feels responsible. He got them all excited, convinced them they could raise the bar. In past years this “A-“ performance would have been more than good enough. He increased expectations, convinced them they could do it, and he feels like he let them down.

And as we talk he says, “God must think I’m an idiot. It’s just a stupid evaluation. From His eternal perspective it doesn’t matter at all.”

Paradox

I hate it when someone’s absolutely right and totally wrong at the same time.

It IS just a number, not much of a blip on the eternal radar screen. Nobody died or got fired or even got yelled at.

But I think God cares about the small stuff, the everyday concerns that make up so much of our lives. I don’t think He views us as idiots because the details of life matter to us. I think those details matter to Him.

I don’t think He wants us to do mediocre work because our efforts won’t change eternity. I think what we do, how we use our gifts, is important to God.

Yes, we sometimes lose perspective, value results more than process, take ourselves too seriously. When I worry needlessly about tomorrow, when I forget to trust God, when I lose sight of the bigger picture, it’s good to remind myself to seek an eternal perspective.

But “keep an eternal perspective” can also be one of those religious platitudes that’s great for beating yourself over the head. When a child’s sick or you’ve missed an important goal, God cares.

So how do I know when I’m making a big deal over nothing and when I’m making nothing over a big deal?

The magic answer…

…is that there probably isn’t a magic answer. Wisdom, discernment, and balance are tough to develop and tougher to maintain. Talking to God, staying connected to close friends, maintaining some quiet time—those help keep me a bit more centered.

I’m glad Joe and I talked, even though I mostly just listened. When he left, he resolved to contact his team leaders and thank them for their hard work. He planned to celebrate their accomplishments—in the bigger picture, the “A-“ was still their best-ever rating. He was already thinking of ways to encourage and empower people to work toward becoming their best selves.

I felt that he knew that God values him and his team, their relationships, and their labor. I sat there for a moment, and something occurred to me.

Maybe, like most things, I make the issue of eternal perspective more complicated than it needs to be. What if it’s enough that something matters to God?

Could it be as simple as: If it matters to God, it matters?

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Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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