I recently visited my childhood hometown. I’ve visited several times before, but this time my mom was living in the very same neighborhood in which I spent my last few high school years.
I’ll be honest, it was a little weird being feet away from where all the happenings of high school went down. There was a sea of memories ready to flood my mind. But with it, a realization that most of what I used to think was so important, was not all that important.
As I walked the route around the neighborhood I walked many times before (this time maybe a little more out of breath), I was humbled. Everything and everyone had long since moved on (Even the old ice cream shop was taken over by some random animal store!). No one knew Heather Pace (Well, Heather Bustamante is how they knew me). It seemed most things that once consumed my life were now fairly irrelevant.
It’s hard to describe that feeling when you experience a tangible reminder that your life is not as big as you think it is. Perhaps it’s the exact feeling we should have when we read passages such as Psalm 39:4-5:
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!’
The truth is, it’s not just childhood memories that feel deceivingly important— it’s our lives now. We rarely see ourselves as fleeting. We would never want to describe our life span as “nothing” before God! And to be compared to “a mere breath” sounds a bit offensive.
But there it is in Scripture: We are not as big as we think they are.
Our life is quick, and while what we do with our lives has tremendous value, and the people we spend time with certainly matter — life is a whole lot more about God and the plans he’s working out than it is about the petty stuff we get so wrapped up in.
All that to say, it was good for me to take that trip down memory lane. I gained refreshed perspective on my life. I was reminded that I have the chance to live now for the things which won’t be irrelevant in a few decades.
And so do you. No one wants their lives consumed by the unimportant or petty things. We want to live for what will matter even centuries from now!
With that said, here are 4 things we can all do to live with our lives in perspective:
#1 Invest in souls.
People will last for eternity. If I had spent my high school years drawing people closer to Jesus, that would 100% still matter, and it would forever. My old neighborhood could have stood as a personal monument for a season in which God used my life to impact others. But unfortunately, it doesn’t. My focus was not God, it was me.
But today, and for the rest of our lives we can use every avenue, every neighborhood, every home, every opportunity, to point people back to Jesus. That is surely what I want to do with the remaining days of my fleeting life.
#2 Strengthen your relationship with God.
Not only is your life fleeting, but so are the people around you, and even the roles you carry out. You wont always be a mom of young kids. You won’t always invest in the same people. You won’t always know the same people. What consumes your time will change. Your abilities will vary. But your relationship with God is a constant. If there is one relationship worth investing in, it’s that one (and all other relational investments will only be better when your relationship with God is the priority).
Just remember, you’re standing on rocky ground when you derive your worth and value from specific roles and relationships, because people will fail you and life will inevitably throw you some curve balls. Stand on the solid rock of deeply knowing Jesus Christ and intimately relying on him (Jeremiah 9:24).
# 3 Hold your comforts loosely.
If life is far bigger than me and my agenda, then my conveniences and comforts are a lot more expendable than I’d like to think. In other words, there is a bigger plan unfolding than the life I prefer to hold on to. And thus we should always be ready to say “God, I am ready for you to use this life of mine for your purposes, even if it costs me.”
In the end, we won’t regret giving up our preferences if we can look back and see that our lives were used for something far greater than our own personal plans. So let’s hold our comforts loosely, ready to give any of them up for the sake of what will matter for eternity.
#4 Pick your commitments carefully.
In our culture, our lives quickly become the sum total of whatever activities we’ve signed up for. Sometimes our activities are easily redeemed for eternal purposes; But, it’s far too easy to let busy schedules steal away our already fleeting days.
So don’t buy into doing what everyone else is doing — choose carefully. Pick things you’ll be glad you invested in when you go down memory lane in a couple decades. Even more importantly, choose what you won’t regret in a couple centuries.
Live For What Always Matters
I’m sure not everyone gains major perspective when they visit their hometown (especially if you live in your hometown). But picture your current home, your current neighborhood, your church, and all the places in which you do life, in 150 years.
Picture walking the streets you once walked. Picture seeing new home owners, new stores, new people — with no one knowing your name.
Imagine the feeling when you recognize that life has fully moved on without you.
In that moment, would you realize that your fleeting life was mostly spent on the unimportant stuff? Or would you know that the investment you made in your adult years was forever valuable — because you invested in souls, you kept your focus on God, you didn’t hold on to temporary conveniences that didn’t matter, and you used your time for things that did?
Live your life for that which will always be a big deal. You won’t regret it if you do.