When I was growing up, one of my father’s favorite moral lessons, that he reinforced at every opportunity, was to consider the consequences of a decision when making a choice, “It’s like taking a short step with a long view, every decision influences what happens as a result and those results change the future.”
The basic principle is this, if you know what you want in the longer term, you can evaluate your shorter term decisions in that context to see if they are taking you in the direction you want to go or not. And if you take this principle to its logical conclusion, the longer the view, the better the short term decision making can get. In a completely optimized situation, then, your view would be eternal. Now, given the fact that God is the only one with a truly eternal view this is more of an aspirational target, then a concrete expectation. But still, it does put things in perspective.
So, for instance, if you think about you job from a longer view; if you consider it in the eternal scheme of things, you may find that you have far more patience for the daily issues and frustrations that may be challenging you right now. When you take the longer view, your job is not really about the individual tasks you have to complete on a given day, or about whether specific issues are going your way at the moment — from the longer perspective, your job is about making a contribution to a worthwhile endeavor, being a part of something bigger than yourself, providing for yourself and your loved ones, and making a difference in the lives of the people you interact with every day.
Now, this is not to take away from the need to engage with the daily struggles, or face the obstacles that challenging you in the shorter term. Rather, a longer term perspective is one of God’s gifts that He blesses you with when you need strength, persistence, dedication, or insight for the present. When you can see the context beyond the noise. When you can find the meaning through the pressure. When you can connect with the people regardless of the circumstances. Then you are actually beginning to see the work of eternal value that God is calling you to.
It’s the same with relationships. When you consider relationships from an eternal perspective, the questions become, are you building something that will last? are you investing in the people you love in meaningful ways? are you considering the consequences beyond the immediate and providing for their eternal welfare? And the beauty of God’s plan is that if the answer is “No” to any of these questions right now, you can make a different decision today that will change the course of history forever.
Whether it is your finances, your relationships, your health, your career — whatever area of your life you want to take to the next level, every great plan is accomplished when you are willing to take the short steps with a long view.
There is an old joke that goes, “How do you eat an entire year’s supply of food?”….”I don’t know, how?”….”One bite at a time.” The length of your view doesn’t change the size of the actions you take, it doesn’t allow you to somehow bypass the small stuff and only deal with the big things in life, but it will change the direction that your actions will take you. The longer your view, the greater your sense of purpose and direction, and what’s more the greater your accomplishments will become because rather than being simply the result of one or two decisions, the longer your view, the more additive the effects of your decisions become.
From the longest of views, God has promised to bless you. With all of eternity in view, God envisioned you, created you, and designed you for a life that would last forever. God knew all of the challenges you would face. God knew all of the difficulties that would arise. God designed you with the long term in mind. God built you to be an overcomer. He planned for you to make a difference in every context you find yourself, to bring a fresh perspective and the strength to accomplish great things in dark places and high points alike. You were chosen with eternity in mind. So, when you find yourself drawn down into the challenges facing you today, lift your eyes and look for the horizon, and then take that next short step in the direction of the long view you want to see accomplished.
When you open your eyes to the eternal perspective that God is offering you. When you take the small steps of faith that God shows you are possible. Then you will start experiencing the long view promises and blessings that God has in store for you today.