Every day I am faced with challenges and choices.  Some are easier to decide; like choosing what to have for lunch – turkey sandwich or leftovers from last night’s dinner (I choose leftovers if it’s anything Mexican!).  Some choices are a bit more challenging; like catching a few more winks of sleep or getting up to start my day earlier – to read my bible and/or exercise.  Yesterday, I was faced with a decision that initially seemed challenging, but really made me think about where my ‘heart’ truly is and what I am living for.  When I explain what the dilemma was, some of you will probably laugh, roll your eyes and some will most definitely relate.  But, wherever you are, I hope you will catch the lesson the Lord taught me in the midst of it all.

As some of you know, I love the game of hockey.  My son played for a few years, I played for an adult league for a year and I watch/follow hockey, as I am able.  Locally, we have a good junior hockey team that I’ve been following for a number of years now – the Tri-City Americans.  Since moving here in July, I haven’t been able to go many games, but having five days off for Thanksgiving, I was ‘itching’ to go to a game – specifically Saturday night – against the #1 team in the league!  I told my wife on Friday that I wanted to go and as Saturday morning rolled around, I began searching Craigslist for tickets.  However, it wasn’t long before my stomach began to tighten as I was reminded that every Saturday night, our church holds a prayer gathering – and I’ve been wanting to go.  Dang!  Thoughts quickly filled my head – “Ahh, I can go to the prayer time next week” – “Going to a game would be a good ‘break’ for me’ – “I can pray on my own”.  It’s funny… or not so funny, how automatically, my mind went to the side of wanting the game over prayer.  So, I stopped to think about my choices and that’s when the voice of reason came – “Brian, which of these has eternal significance?”  Leave it to God to bring rock solid clarity to my seemingly petty dilemma.  It made me think about other decisions I make from day to day and their ‘eternal significance’ – decisions on where I spend money, decisions on how I speak to people (and who I speak too), decisions on how I spend my time, etc.  Could these have ‘eternal significance’ in my life and the life of those around me?  I am reminded of some scriptures I recently read –

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (eternal significance) 1 John 2:15-17

And this is His (God) command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another… This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (eternal significance) 1 John 3:16-23

I do realize that not every choice I face carries with it a weight of ‘eternal significance’.  For example, should I order a hazelnut latte’ or a peppermint mocha? And it’s also not wrong to have fun – hockey games, vacations, relaxing, fine food, etc. But, the point is this – many of the decisions I do make affect me as well as those around me on an eternal level.  This simple yet powerful lesson has spiritually “rattled my cage” and wouldn’t you know it, just today, God have me yet another opportunity to do something with ‘eternal significance’.  My wife and I found out about a family whose home burned down on Thanksgiving Day.  Praise God, many people and local organizations were already stepping up to help provide shelter, food, clothes, etc., but there was still a need for adult clothing for the dad and oldest son. 

Remembering the verse above about “seeing a brother in need” and the desire to want to live my life in such a way that makes an ‘eternal difference’ in the lives of those around me, in my book, I really didn’t have a choice.  My wife and I gave.  You might ask, how can a simple act of providing clothes for someone have ‘eternal significance’?  Let me tell you a short story about how a simple act of kindness saved a man’s life.  Last winter, I was part of a team from Stone Church that served breakfast to the homeless and provided a warm place out of the cold.  Rob, a young man of about 35, would periodically come in for breakfast.  He typically kept to himself – he’d grab some breakfast and leave soon after.  One particular day, Rob came in, grabbed his breakfast as usual and sat down.  One of our volunteers (Jeff), wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to talk with him, asked Rob if they could share breakfast together.  They ate, chatted and shared for about 20 minutes or so.  Rob left soon after – as he usually did.  The next day, he came in, which was unusual because he typically didn’t come in two days in a row.  He came up to us right when he came in and said, “I’m not supposed to be here today.”  He continued to explain that yesterday morning when he awoke, he had convinced himself that today would be his last.  He was homeless (living in his car), had burned all his bridges with family, friends and God.  He felt that no one cared about him anymore or even would notice he was gone; much less miss him.  He just wanted to know that one person cared.  His plan was to come into The Station for breakfast, leave – drive his car out to some remote place and … But he didn’t follow through.  He explained that our volunteer (Jeff) came and sat down with him that morning and they just chatted – talked about life, the weather… and encouraged him.  He said that Jeff had no idea what my plans were – I didn’t tell him – but the fact that he chose to come and sit with me when there were plenty of other people he could have talked with made all the difference.  He showed me that one person cared… that’s all I needed and here I am today to tell the story.

Whenever I think about Rob’s story, it is a stark reminder on how my choices can have eternal significance in other’s lives.  The ‘rest of the story’ as Paul Harvey would say is this – our volunteer (Jeff) said that that morning, he felt prompted by God – a small stirring in his spirit – that he needed to eat breakfast with this man that morning. What if Jeff had chosen not to go?  What if he had convinced himself that he was too busy, too full or too tired?  We would have lost another to hopelessness.  I am thankful that Jeff followed the Lord’s prompting – and so is Rob!

My hope is that the lesson I have learned in making decisions in my life based upon ‘eternal significance’ will in some way help you as well to think about the choices we all make and the ‘eternal significance’ they might have in our own lives and the lives of those around us.

Oh – and by the way, I didn’t go to the hockey game (and the Americans still won without me!)  I chose to go to the prayer time at church and it was awesome!!  And I am still looking forward to seeing an American’s game soon!

Lord Jesus, forgive me for being selfish with my time, talents and resources.  Help me to see the opportunities you give me everyday to live with ‘eternal significance” in my own life and in the lives you place around me. Amen.

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