DayBreaks for 10/20/17: Temporary
“It’s just a temporary condition. You’ll feel better in a few days.” Those are comforting words when they come from our doctor or dentist, are they not? Temporary, meaning that it will not last long. It’s a passing thing.
“It’s just a temporary setback. We’ll get back on track soon.” Those words are often spoken in the business world or even in a military setting when something bad has happened and we want to put on a good face and try to be encouraging to others who may really be upset and disturbed by the goings-on. In that case, it’s meant to be a comforting word.
But there are things that we don’t want to be temporary: enjoying beauty, enjoying the love of a spouse, children and grandchildren. We don’t want the mountain-top experiences of life to be temporary things – like fleeting shadows that are here for a moment or two and then gone. There’s nothing comforting about hearing that someone’s love for you is temporary. We want it to be permanent – lasting, a forever-thing.
Isn’t it strange how we spend so much of our life’s energy chasing after temporary things? Can you imagine how our lives would be if we spent our time, money, energy and spirits on pursing permanent things? In his books, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg described an incident where a speaker stood in front of a large group of people. He had a roll of stickers in his hand. Behind him on the platform were all kinds of objects – tables filled with things from our lives – computers, dollhouses, desks, a Matchbox car, pots and pans, etc. The speaker began to roam around the stage, placing red stickers on everything. He explained to the crowd what he was doing: although they couldn’t see it from their vantage point, each sticker had the same word on it: TEMPORARY. He said, “Everything that I’m putting a sticker on is temporary. It will not last. It will fade away. We invest our emotions in them be3cause when we acquire it, it gives us a little thrill. And we think the thrill will last. But it does not. It fades. And eventually, so will what we acquire.
“If you are living for what you see up here, then you are living for what is temporary. Temporary satisfaction, temporary fulfillment, temporary meaning. It will come to an end – but you never will. It will leave you with a terrible emptiness.”
Wouldn’t it be easier to make better decisions in life if the things we pursue in this world all had that red sticker on them to remind us that they are temporary? I have to think we might make different choices – at least some of the time.
Later, the speaker did one more thing. First, he said, “There is only one thing in this room that is not temporary. There is only one item that you will be allowed to take with you from this life into the next.” With that, he invited a little girl to join him on the stage, and he put a blue sticker on the collar of her dress. “When you get to the end of your life and take in your last breath, what do you want your life to have been about. What will make it rich in the eyes of God?” The answer was obvious: people.
Are you wise? Are you building your life around temporary things or permanent, eternal things? The next time you’re tempted to invest in something (large or small), try to picture the sticker – is it imprinted with “Temporary” or “Eternal”?
PRAYER: Give us wisdom to see things as temporary, yet to see the people we encounter every day as eternal. Please remind us of how we should invest our lives, and what we should invest them in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.