Often when meeting with a student, I draw different diagrams to explain ideas. One of my favorites is a long horizontal line upon which I draw a small dot. I ask, “If that is a timeline, what do you think the dot represents?” Almost immediately the student says, that is my life in comparison to human history!” And just as quickly, I let him/her know that this is wrong.
Bewildered, they stare at the diagram and then stare at me and then back to the line and dot. Puzzlement is written all over the student’s face, “What else could it be?”
“The line is all of eternity, the dot is human history,” I explain. As understanding fills the child’s face, I ask, “So where is your life?” “It is just a little tiny speck on the dot, so little one can’t see it.”
“So for what are you living?” How big are your problems on this line? With what should you be concerning yourself — a little tiny speck or the line of eternity?
The Apostle Paul put it this way: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
The hardships that I experience on my mini-pixel of a life on top of the dot are light and momentary. This is not a flippant comment from a man who knew little suffering; a man of privilege trivializing the problems of others. Read Paul’s partial list of his trials in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. He was no stranger to pain and hardship, yet he kept his focus on the eternal — on the eternal weight of glory toward God being achieved through them. This lightened the burdens with which he was surrounded.
Even as we look back on our life with years and even decades of perspective, we now realize proper priorities and unexpected rewards. The crisis that seemed life-ending or career-ending turned out to be a redirection which God used for our good and His glory. (Of course, there are things that we have yet to understand, that are painful still.)
We need to encourage our children to keep their eye on the line and not the dot. We need to train them by word and by example to live life in the light of glory. I am often reminded of Jim Elliot and his partner Nate Saint, an evangelical Christian missionary pilot to Ecuador, who were killed while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people through efforts known as Operation Auca.
In spite of the murders, Jim’s wife and Nate’s sister went back to this tribe and continued the work. Many, many were saved and many more were inspired by their sacrifice to go on the mission field themselves. (Their story received a ten=[page photo spread in Life magazine and coverage in Reader’s digest!) Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Elliot had his eye on the line, not the dot.
Jesus put it this way, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” (Matthew 16:25-27)
For what are you living? Values are usually best caught rather than taught. Our children can tell what our true priorities are. I encourage you to live what you teach your kids. You have chosen to put them in a school with high aspirations — our mission is to raise up men and women of God like Stephen in Acts 6 & 7 and Daniel in the Old Testament. Sure, we emphasize strong academics, but that is not the goal. The academic is designed to give them a sharpened arrow, a powerful sword, and effective weapons for them to use in combat against the forces of satan as he works to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).
To God be the glory! That is our battle cry and our nightly whisper as we pray for our families, our children and our school. God’s best, Christopher