So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
I can look at someone and not see them. I can hear someone and not listen to them. You are probably thinking that this is because I am a man, but you do the same thing.
The difference between looking and seeing or hearing and listening is that one just happens and the other requires focused attention. We look at things more or less by default. How many times have we “lost” something only to discover that it’s sitting right in front of us? We were looking at the lost object. We just weren’t focused on it.
How do you look at things that are unseen? According to Paul, we “fix our eyes” or “set our sights.” It’s something we do on purpose. It’s not something that comes naturally.
What comes naturally is to look at the world around us and worry. I know this is happening when I receive multiple requests to repeat the End Times class at BrookwoodU. Students don’t like what they’re looking at these days. They would rather focus on what’s yet to come.
Setting our sights on what is unseen is not copping out of reality. It’s actually a way of coping with reality. We can put up with the situation in front of us because we know that God will use our frustrations and failures to build our character. The temporary problem can catalyze an eternal quality. The key lies with our perspective. What have we “fixed” our eyes on the problem or the process?
What do we know of that is eternal? God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit has no beginning or end (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 1 Timothy 1:17). God’s Word will last forever (Psalm 119:89). Humans are spiritual beings with eternal souls (1 John 2:17). Heaven and Hell are eternal places (2 Corinthians 5:1; Matthew 25:46). The Earth is not (Revelation 21:1). Angels were created to last forever. God’s plan and the inheritance He gives are eternal possessions (Hebrews 9:15). And, that’s about it. Everything else is temporary.
One day there will be no more 401k’s or sports cars or mortgages. Fire ants, pollen, diets and workouts will all be distant memories. Congress, terrorists, nuclear arms and traffic will be long forgotten. There will be no marital problems in Heaven, because there will be no marriages and no sin. Our kids will no longer misbehave or need discipline. They will be God’s kids anyway.
This is not an invitation to deny reality and long for Heaven at the neglect of our responsibilities here. This is an invitation to embrace what we face here with the understanding that this life is preparation for the next. Our problems are our teachers to forge our character. Even the days when we’d rather “skip school” are better lived with an eternal perspective.
What we are looking at, the things that are staring us in the face, won’t last forever. We are connected far more deeply to the things beyond this life than anything we might confront in this life. What’s more, the unseen things are far more significant than the obvious things. As our pastor, Perry Duggar says, “The most powerful things in the world can’t be touched, but they can be felt.”