What really matters in life is how God sees me. He is not concerned with outward appearance; He is concerned about the state of a man’s soul. – Billy Graham
Something just wasn’t quite right. I could tell. Billy (not his real name) was usually Mr. Charisma, flashing his broad toothy smile, as he yakked away with the daily lunchtime parade. Not today. Instead he sat quietly, staring into his glass and occasionally drumming his fingers on the counter top.
It’s been somewhat stormy as of late here on Florida’s Gulf Coast – trapping me indoors. Now, with the return of the bright summer sunshine, I’m perched at one of my favorite inspiration points, the outside Tiki on the water at Rusty Bellies in Tarpon Springs. The tropical morning air is thick with those familiar salty sea smells. I’m fine with that. Thankfully, there is also a very nice leeward breeze to keep me cool as I write.
When Billy got up to use the rest room, I motioned for him to come my way. I don’t know him that well, but we have exchanged small talk on several occasions. As he approached the table I said, “How are you, buddy?” His terse reply caught me off guard; “what does it matter how I am?”
Normally, I’d crack a few jokes to lighten the mood and then move on. Not today. I said, “It matters to me Billy, what’s wrong?” He began by telling me how upsetting life in, as he put it, a “deaf, dumb and blind” world had become. “So many people don’t seem to get it at all”, he said, “misunderstanding is everywhere and some folks don’t even care if something is true or just a lie.” Billy then summed up his frustrations this way, “You asked me what’s wrong so I will tell you; everything is going crazy, people are paranoid and afraid. It’s like nothing matters – not even the truth! What’s worse, I’m beginning not to care anymore myself.” And with that, he walked away.
So, the world has gone crazy and nothing matters? That’s what Billy believes. What about you? Have you ever felt like what you think or do doesn’t matter all that much? And what about the truth? Does the truth matter? And if so, have you taken a stand for the right stuff, you know, the things that truly matter most in life? Or are you like Billy, beginning not to care anymore?
Sometimes we may actually find justification for such a mindset. Take the farce of modern politics, for example. Do you actually believe that all of the high-profile candidates and elected representatives are on a mission to accomplish what matters most to “John Q Public?” Survey says; “Not really.” With a few notable exceptions, politicians will give the impression of deep concern for what is important to the voting public only during the campaign season. After the election, far too many contemporary political figures hardly ever seems to take into account the sentiments of the people who voted for them. Once these disingenuous candidates gain entrance into the egocentric money driven political class, they quickly grow deaf to the voice of the citizens they are sworn to represent. The Lords and Ladies of our modern plutocracy would like nothing better than for the serfs of the fiefdom to remember their station, respect their betters, and shut their collective mouths. But of course, we better continue to pay their ever more oppressive taxes.
And what of the corporate behemoths in the research and pharmaceutical community? Certainly “we the people” matter to them. They’re all humanitarians, right? Why else would the cost of a vital and widely used anaphylaxis treatment device called the EpiPen ® cost the consumer in some cases over $400.00 a dose? This recent headline grabbing example of how much people “matter” to the masters of the medical universe prompted social media outrage and a campaign by patients and their families to persuade Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, to reduce the price. Numerous critics noted that the actual cost of the epinephrine (the drug included in the auto-injector) is about $1.00 and the entire delivery system can be produced for about $20.00.
Shall we banter about your health insurance providers or the big banks? They’re all about you, aren’t they? Look, I am really not here to deliberate human corruption and greed. The point I’d actually like to make is very simple; living in modern Sodom, it’s easy to feel like your life doesn’t matter all that much.
Now here is what distresses me; more and more honest, hardworking people have given in to that most insidious of little voices that can creep inside your human spirit and whisper the greatest destructive lie of all, “Why bother trying, you don’t matter – just give up.”
So again I ask you, do we matter at all? Let’s talk.
I resent being taken for a ride to the place where anything goes and nothing matters. And especially where nothing matters less than clear thinking and straight talk.” – James Howard Kunstler
The Book of Psalms can be found in the Older Testament of the Bible. Psalm 8 contains this enlightening observation:
3 “When I look up into the night skies and see the work of your fingers the moon and the stars you have made 4 I cannot understand how you can bother with mere puny man, to pay any attention to him!” (Psalm 8:3-4 – TLB)
How direct. The Psalmist wonders why the Great Architect of the universe would pay any attention at all to what he calls “puny man”. In essence he says, “Given who you are, how or why would insignificant humanity possibly matter to you?” The writer of another ancient book that is also found in the Bible – Ecclesiastes – phrased the question more cynically when he asked, “Does anything matter?” Here is how he felt: “Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Nothing has any meaning.” (Ecclesiastes 12:8 – NIRV)
So far, it sounds like those who side with the “nothing matters” crowd might have a two point advantage. Not so fast. Let me introduce you to an ancient sage who claimed he had received visions and predictive messages directly from the Almighty (God). His name was Isaiah, a Judean Prophet who for over 40 years saw himself as a messenger of the Creator. Isaiah lived during one of the most unstable political and religious periods in the history of ancient Jerusalem.
You will find the record of his adventurous life as well as his revelatory writings in the Bible’s Older Testament Book that bears his name. Its 66 chapters deal with the Creator’s message to His disobedient creation – at that time the chosen people of ancient Israel. The Almighty had entered into a covenant arrangement with the Israelites based on very specific conditions. However, over time they refused to live by the terms of the agreement; choosing rebellion, pride, and self-will over obedience, humility and surrender. As spiritual insensitivity increased, ancient Israel elected to do more things their way and without Divine help.
Isaiah was a member of the aristocracy and as such he enjoyed a good relationship with the various heads of state and he had free access to the hallowed halls of the palace. However, his position in society and associations with the politically elite did not deter him from being outspoken. In fact, he is considered one of the most politically active of all the Biblical prophets. He is well known for his verbal attacks on the ruling classes, criticizing their corruption and the way they treated the common citizen.
A man of deep seated spiritual principles, he unequivocally believed in the supernatural power of the Almighty Creator. Isaiah was appalled by the general lack of trust in the one true God so widespread in his time. He unabashedly proclaimed that the whole of creation belongs to the Almighty (i.e. God owns this planet and all it contains). He foretold of a coming day of judgement and ultimately the destruction of this world order. His challenge to mankind was not complex: turn to God for everything in life – or else you will suffer the consequences. He was one of the early Turn or Burn preachers.
One day Isaiah had a Divine visitation in which he saw the Glory of the otherworldly Lord of Hosts. During this visionary encounter, the Almighty communicated with him. The dialogue began with a question (his calling), followed by specific instructions (his mission):
8 Then I heard the Lord God asking, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go?”
And I said, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.”
9 And he said, “Yes, Go and say to this people, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” (Isaiah 6:8-10 – Septuagint)
Herein is revealed the true nature of spiritual blindness. Without divine perception you can “hear” the words of truth given to humanity by the Creator Himself and yet comprehend nothing. You can witness (see) the handiwork of the Almighty all around you and fail to understand what it means. Without ears to hear and eyes to see your hardened heart is not able to recognize the need to seek the one who made you. The pursuit of the God who controls all things is more important than anything else that happens here on spaceship earth. You might say, it’s all that REALLY matters. Find God and you discover what life is really all about. Find what life is really all about and you will recognize that indeed you really DO matter – where it counts.
Nothing else matters much not wealth, nor learning, nor even health without this gift: the spiritual capacity to keep a passion for living. This is the creed of creeds, the final deposit and distillation of faith itself: that you should be able to believe in the true purpose of life.” – Unknown
When the Liberator Jesus (our creator appearing in the form of a human) was here on spaceship earth he would often tell illustrative stories called parables to the crowds who gathered to listen to him speak. One day, at the conclusion of one such parable (Matthew 13:1-8) he told the assemblage that had gathered to listen to him speak, 9 “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
As the crowd was dispersing, His close associates asked this question, 10 “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” Here is how he replied to that inquiry,
11 “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables, for they (the many) look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.” (Matthew 13:11-13)
What about you? Do your eyes really see the truth? Can you really hear what the Spirit of our Creator is saying today? Do you care? If so, count yourself blessed. Many cannot see nor hear – at least not yet, and many more refuse to even try. Listen carefully then to these urgent words from the Bible’s Newer Testament:
12-15You should therefore be most careful, my brothers, that there should not be in any of you that wickedness of heart which refuses to trust, and deserts the cause of the living God. Help each other to stand firm in the faith every day, while it is still called “today”, and beware that none of you becomes deaf and blind to God through the delusive glamour of sin. For we continue to share in all that Jesus has done for us so long as we steadily maintain until the end the trust with which we began. These words are still being said for our ears to hear: ‘Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’.
Can you hear that? He is speaking to you even now. To some He is saying, “Help each other to stand firm in the faith every day, while it is still called “today”. To others He is saying, “…if you will hear my voice, do not harden your hearts in rebellion any longer”.
Everything I have said today matters. The question is, does anything I’ve said here matter to you? Because you see my friend, you really do matter to the only one who really matters – the God who made you. And that’s what matters most!
Care to pray?
Father of all creation, some have heard your voice today. Something is stirring inside of them right now. I’m sure that they still have many questions. There are so many mysteries yet to be understood and hurts to be healed. Please help those with newly opened eyes and ears to place a measure of trust in you and in the message spoken to us all by the Liberator Jesus. Help them to say, “Here I am.” Guide them on their journey homeward, I pray. Amen.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.