I have been trying to jump on the bandwagon with this thing people call, “healthy eating.” I think it is quite possible Satan has embodied all chocolate cake, brownies, and cookies as I daily struggle to resist every tempting impulse to devour each offer of carby, sweet, deliciousness. Bagel after muffin after decadent, beautiful piece of cheesecake scoff at me while I attempt to look the other direction. Some days it’s near painful, but this year has been the year of food conviction and buttery bye-byes. In February, I found out that significant heart disease runs not only on my mom’s side but also my dad’s, landing him in the Cleveland Clinic with quadruple bypass at age 59. I began to realize that my days of temporal salivary enjoyment, free grazing, and uncommitted exercise would only increase my likelihood of disease in the years to come, so I began to make changes now, in hopes of a healthier future.
The American society is often centered on personal, momentary happiness, indulgence, and getting what you want when you want it. And I must confess—I kind of like that. Most things are available at the click of a button and an Amazon prime delivery. Just trying to find a simple tube of toothpaste can become complex because the options are so plentiful. I am so thankful for the luxuries afforded to us in this land of milk and honey. There’s no place I’d rather be, but I know this type of mindset has distracted us from eternal perspective. It is so easy to live in the moment—plan for the day, week, or maybe even a month–but to plan for eternity…it seems even further than retirement.
Although we’re in a culture that deemphasizes future planning and preparation, the secret to success is found when people evaluate the future effects of their decisions and trust the One who holds their future. Truly successful people maintain an eternal perspective. They know that they’re playing a role in the kingdom of God and recognize that although the temptation is to make the here-and-now about themselves, it’s ultimately about glorifying God and planting seeds for eternity.
There’s a curious little story that always catches my attention when I read through Luke 5. A man who was paralyzed wanted to reach Jesus so bad for healing that his friends cut a hole in the roof to lower him down into a crowded house just so that Jesus would be able to heal him. You can see the determination of the friends as they try to get their friend the help he so desperately wanted:
Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:18-20)
Every time I read verse 20, I can’t help but be caught off guard at Jesus’ response. Clearly, the man wanted to be freed from his mat and no longer confined to the imprisonment of paralysis, but Jesus’ first response has nothing to do with this man’s physical needs. Instead Jesus offers the man forgiveness of sins. Huh? If I were to imagine myself as the paralytic, I’d probably feel jipped at first. I’d be thinking, “God, this isn’t what I asked for. I wanted salvation now from my paralysis, not forgiveness.” But like Jesus always does, He is takes the physical, temporal mindset, and flips it to the eternal because Jesus knows what this life is truly about. He first dealt with the spiritual before fixing the physical. Jesus is always trying to help us transcend beyond the physical, the material, the-here-and-now, and think about the purpose behind it all, which is to bring glory to God by sharing the truth of His goodness and forgiveness.
As you chase your dreams and pursue success, it is important to remember the grand cosmic plan that God is accomplishing in and through those who love Him. It’s easy to get so caught up in personal promotion, fame, platforms, and accomplishments that we forget that there is something bigger, greater, and more purposeful playing out. Slowly we can become increasingly self-focused, working tirelessly to build our own kingdom instead of God’s. Psalm 127:1 reminds us that, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” When God is the chief architect of our lives, dreams, and achievements, then we have found true success.
God is honored and glorified when we prioritize Him above all else. He promises to take care of those who put Him first. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” Matthew 6:33. Whatever successful outcome you are striving towards, be sure to always seek the Lord’s face first. Hold your plans with an open hand, surrendering your will as you try your best to control the things you can control. God will guide, bless, and direct your efforts as you keep an eternal perspective your focus.