It’s probably happened to you. Your life is going along relatively OK. There are bumps in the road, but you’re still moving forward – even if it’s slower than you wish. Sure, life could be better, but you’ve come to some sort of compromise with your dreams. Maybe this is as good as it’s going to get.

And then WHAM! Something totally disrupts your imperfect-but-known way of life. A flood or tornado or fire wipes out all your earthly possessions. The marriage you thought would last forever ends in a flurry of betrayal and trauma. You get a call that your loved one has been taken to the hospital after a serious accident.

And suddenly the things that mattered so much yesterday don’t matter at all today.

Nothing brings life into perspective like trouble. It happened for me with the death of my beloved husband Al in February. It’s not that I didn’t expect this time of loss and grief; I knew when we married that barring a miracle or Jesus’ imminent return I would be facing life as a widow one day, though Al’s death came sooner than we expected. I truthfully had my priorities about right. But still the stark reality of death has taken what I knew to be true and broadcast it in front of my face in 3-D neon technicolor and shouted it in my ears with the volume of a jet engine.

I don’t look back now; I look forward. And that changes the way everything looks. From the perspective of eternity, everything here and now becomes unimportant – while at the same time becoming supremely important.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

As humans we are so easily caught up in the small stuff – how long the line is at the drive-through to get coffee, whether your friends posted better vacation pictures than you on Facebook, the latest political or celebrity scandal, or what it takes to get that next promotion or client. An unexpected financial expense or a misunderstanding with your spouse can feel like the end of the world.

The problem is – there really IS an end of the world coming. And it has nothing to do with the state of your bank account, your marriage, or the economy. As big as these issues may be, they don’t matter one whit – at least not for the reasons we suppose they do. What your husband or wife said to you last night probably won’t even be part of your memory next week or next year – or certainly in a billion years.

Yes, that’s right. A billion years. And that’s only a start. Eternity is a really, really, really long time!

And anything that doesn’t impact eternity is really small stuff.  Tweet that.

DO sweat the small stuff!

That doesn’t mean the small stuff doesn’t matter, but it matters in a totally different way than we usually think. It’s not about my happiness or convenience or success here and now. But it IS about the impact of the little things on eternity.

  • Being inconvenienced by a traffic jam won’t matter in eternity. But my choice about whether I become angry or instead spend the time listening to an inspiring podcast will matter in eternity.
  • My child’s grades in school won’t matter in eternity. But whether I belittle my child for his poor performance or instead help him develop the character traits necessary to deal with hardship will matter a great deal in eternity.
  • My business failure or overdrawn bank account won’t matter in eternity. But whether I sell out for short-term gain or do shoddy work because nobody cares – or instead make every decision based on integrity and godly stewardship – matters forever.
  • Whether my spouse is a poor communicator, lousy lover, or up-tight partner won’t matter in eternity. But whether I become bitter and demanding – or instead grow my own character and support them in their character growth – may make all the difference for both of us in eternity.

The small stuff matters not because of its impact on our life now, but because of the choices we make at every little point along the way. Those choices either grow our character or stunt it. They either draw others closer to the kingdom of God or drive them away. They either lay up treasure in heaven or squander the time, talent, and treasure God has entrusted us with.

What Really Matters

So next time you have a choice to make (and you always have a choice in the matter), learn to take the forever view.

Even with a forever view pleasure and success and love and beauty are still important; God lavishes His attention on the most “insignificant” flower or snowflake or ocean wave. God cares about your bad hair days, your dinner menu, and your weekend entertainment. But He cares infinitely more about how those things are becoming ingredients in the you that will inherit eternity.

If someone who didn’t know you was invited to observe everything about your life for a period of time – your bank account, your schedule, your most private moments – what would they say you believed about eternity? Would they even see evidence that you thought about it at all? What you believe will show itself in the way you spend your time and money, and the way you treat other people.

Remember, eternity is a really long time!

And that’s why you should definitely sweat the small stuff.

Your Turn: What do the small things in your life show that you believe about eternity? Are there choices you need to make differently? Leave a comment below.

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  • In light of eternity, the small stuff matters not at all – and also matters overwhelmingly.    Tweet that.

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