I was coming out of a store the other day when a horde of green- and brown-uniformed girls attacked me to ask if I would buy their cookies. I don’t mean “attack” in the military sense, but in that of skillfully separating one from the contents of his or her wallet.
There must be a Cookie Boot Camp where these girls are drilled in the art of salesmanship. I picture instructors who help them master the technique of approaching each customer with a wide, innocent smile.
The girls also learn how to tilt their heads slightly to one side after making the pitch, combined with what’s known in the cookie world as “puppy-dog eyes.” In other words, anyone who dares to say “no” risks opening the floodgates of Heaven.
These little saleswomen also earn to use the words “mister” and “please” in the proper combination: “Please, mister, would you buy some of our cookies?” Their training is so successful that you don’t know whether to buy their cookies, adopt them or pay their way through college.
I bought a box. Not because I wanted to and not even because the cookie girls smiled at me. I bought them to invest in the future. And not their future, but mine.
I bought them because one of these days, my kids will stick me in a nursing home. By then, some of these brown- and green-uniformed girls will be old enough to be nurses. When one of them comes into my room, I’ll say, “You look familiar. Did you sell cookies when you were a little girl?” If she says, “Yes,” I’ll tell her, “I thought I recognized those eyes and that beautiful smile.”
I’ll also remind her that many years ago, she sold me a box of cookies. In fact, I’ll remind her of that day whenever I see her. I hope she’ll spread the word to the other nurses and orderlies: “Be nice to Mr. Moore in room 202, because when I was younger, he was kind enough to buy a box of cookies from me.”
So, yes, when I made my purchase, I was thinking about how good those cookies were going to taste. And at the same time, I was keeping an eye toward the future.
I’m a big fan of thinking ahead. And I learned this art from the Bible.
A wise person walks with one eye on the immediate and the other on the future. Scripture has a lot to say about this: “A man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6:7). “Whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33).
A farmer always plants with one eye on the immediate, and the other on the future, when the harvest will come. As we read in Matthew 7, a builder does the same thing. If you build your house upon the sand, it will eventually crumble. But if you build your house upon the rock, it will stand the test of time. When you live with one eye on the immediate and the other cast toward eternity, you’ll have a framework for making good and wise decisions. Today’s choice is tomorrow’s consequence, good or bad.
Do you look at things in the temporary, the immediate, or do you keep one eye fixed on the lens of eternity? ”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20).
When we changed from an agricultural society to an industrial one, we lost the concept of keeping one eye on the road ahead. We only have an eye on the immediate, the efficient and the path of least resistance. With the arrival of microwave ovens, instant oatmeal, fast food, Twitter, Facebook and Skype, our lives have shifted more and more to the immediate until we’ve become a one-eyed society. We give little thought to the consequences of today’s actions. We have a vision problem: we can’t see.
I often watch this played out through the lives of people who have maxed out their credit cards, not realizing a day of reckoning will come: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matt. 8:36).
Teaching your children this idea of walking with one eye on the future isn’t easy. You don’t have to teach them to keep their eyes on the immediate; that came with the Fall. But if you want them to be like Jesus, teach them to keep one eye focused on Him.
Besides, that way, maybe they won’t notice that you ate the entire box of “Thin Mints.“