My husband woke one morning with a nostalgic urge to revisit the small North Carolina town where he spent the first eight years of his childhood. At family gatherings, he and his twin brother recounted endless stories of playing kick-the-can and baseball in their front yard, which was “at least the size of a football field.”
They recalled long hardwood hallways where they slid sock-footed, that were “at least as long as a bowling alley.” And they itched talking about rolling down grassy hills in the front yard that spilled onto the sidewalk.
So, the little boy in Steve decided to take a trip to his boyhood home and revisit the days of his youth. With map in hand, he drove the three hours, and pulled up to the address on his scratch piece of paper.
He blinked. Checked the address. And sat slack jawed.
The yard he remembered to be “the size of a football field,” was in reality the size of a baseball infield with the small bungalow sitting on the pitcher’s mound.
His hallways “as long as a bowling alley” couldn’t have been any longer than the two boys lying head-to-head. And the “rolling hills” were no more than two humps in the front yard.
Steve spent the day driving from one landmark to another, and each time reality clashed with memory. “Everything is so small,” he said time and time again.
I think back to the problems I’ve had in my life over the past half century plus. At the time, so many of them seemed so big. Football field wide, mountain-high, bowling alley-long. However, looking back, many of those mountainous struggles were really just bumps in the road. I think those problems will seem even smaller when I cross over to the other side.
Paul said this about his own life: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 KJV). I hear my country grandmother in those words, “I reckon.”
I always thought of “reckon” to mean, “I guess so.” But the word “reckon” in the New Testament Greek, logizomai, actually means to count, reason, decide, conclude. It’s to properly compute or come to a logical conclusion. That’s a lot more than grandma’s “I reckon.”
Listen, I know this world can have hardships that seem to suck the life right out of us. I don’t want us to ever think that Paul was glossing over the enormous physical and emotional pain that comes with living on this side of heaven. He wasn’t minimalizing his. He wasn’t minimalizing ours.
One look at 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 shows us that he had been through more than you or I will probably ever experience. He was shipwrecked, snake bitten, man-beaten multiple times, imprisoned, robbed, and left naked on the side of the road. And yet, he says that all his and our suffering will be small compared to the glories that are yet to come for those who know Jesus as Lord.
Maybe you’re thinking, that all sounds well and good, but it doesn’t really help me get through my struggles right now. I get it. Maybe it’s because we don’t think about heaven enough. Let’s think about this place where we’ll live a lot longer than we will live here. No pain. No crying. No suffering. No questions. Beauty everywhere you look. Praise in every sound you hear.
So, what do we do in the here and now when what seems so big will one day seem very small? We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Paul wrote, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV).
Steve didn’t regret his visit to his boyhood home, but it did make him chuckle at the enormity of the memories. I think we might chuckle a time or two when we leave our earthly home and compare our past struggles with our eternal celebration.
Jesus, I can’t wait to be in heaven and spend eternity with You. Until then, help me to keep my worldly struggles in perspective. This life is short. Eternity is long. In Your Name I pray, Amen.
What is one problem you had in the past that seemed so big, that now seems rather small?
Your struggles…your stories…are one of the most amazing tools you have to glorify God. What was difficult for you can become divine help for someone else. Not sure you believe me? Check out my book, When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories. It truly can!
Click here to share a prayer request and to pray for others.