A New Perspective
According to dictionary.com, a perspective is “in the state of one’s own ideas, the facts known to one and a technique for depicting volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface”. Our perspective on life can be altered by the situations that surround us; that is, the pressures we face in life alter how we see life. In the book of Psalms, as an example, we read about a man named Asaph who reflected on how God is good to all who are pure in heart but, struggled with the reality that the pride filled man never faced earthly struggles like ailments, setbacks, etc. In Asaph’s view, it seemed almost foolish to trust in God just to face the earthly struggles. The evil man flaunted his good fortune and said: “God who”? Then, something spectacular happened! Asaph went into the sanctuary of God for a fresh perspective; listen to his words “If I had spoken in the same words of the evil man, I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their destination” (Psalms 73: 1-17). Sometimes in our walk with God, we too need a fresh perspective because the constant influx of information has us overwhelmed. The news stations, Facebook, and many other social media sites depict a scary world in which joy has no meaning and everything is wrong.
Being a child of God does not stop us from getting our perspective out of whack because life is filled with obstacles. To get a fresh perspective, we need to leave where we are for a little while to get another viewpoint. Consider Jesus’ time in Samaria, a place no good Jew should ever go. Bear in mind that Jesus went to Samaria during a time of intense struggles in Judea with the Sanhedrin. So, going to Samaria was not just get out of town and let things cool off but, to do something that would bring clarity to his mission (John 4:1-26). I am one of those people who will stay at something longer than I should and I end up missing a key element of the problem. When I consider the image in the mirror, I believe that I am doing something wrong and so I keep looking for that something until the thing I was working on gets broken. Understand this, the Devil is also very good at moving the lights around to change the image in the mirror and he does so with relative ease. The last thing the Devil wants is for children of the world to have joy and peace in our life so, he will allow man to see whatever he/she wants to see to keep their eyes off the truth and on themselves; let us call it the “Nebuchadnezzar disease” (Daniel 3).
There are times in our life when all else fails, we go back to the one thing that is a key part of who we are. Paul went back to tent-making (Acts 18:1-4) and Peter went back to the fishing boat (John 21). Both men were facing a very difficult time in their life and everything was topsy-turvy; Paul was at the end of his life and Peter had denied Jesus. Somehow, having a familiar place to go to, a chosen profession or hobby, and/or a quiet place clears up the confusion and helps us to get a better grip on the struggle(s) we are facing. For me, the place I go to is a city park in Cottage Grove. The park is nothing special, it holds no magnetism, it is just a park area that is frequented by many of the citizens daily; kids play baseball, tennis, and football. For me, it is the place a met a friend years ago who, like me, struggled with life in general; my mother once called this friendship “friends through affliction” and I believe that is an accurate statement. Just knowing that I was not alone in struggles and/or afflictions helped me to see life differently.
I had a vision one day of standing on the mountain of God looking down on the situation I was facing; from that vantage point, I could see all my life in full view. On that mountain was a holy hush as all I could hear was the still small voice of God clearing up my confusion. The funny part of the vision was that below the mountain everything seemed chaotic, out of control, and utterly helpless; yet, there was the solid rock that never moved and I was stable – even the wind did not cause me to move or even flinch; it was as if the presence of God had a built a wall around me. Parents of little children know just how out of control life became especially when the children are ill or life throws curve balls at them.
There are times in our life when God will take us to places we do not want to go to. Consider Jeremiah who was sent to the people of Israel and specifically his family. At first, the mission might have sounded quite intriguing; imagine telling mom and dad “You are sinful and going to hell”. The problem is that the mission had many hidden traps, attacks, and frustrations. Being sent by God is no guarantee that the mission will be easy. Earlier in the mission, Jeremiah complained to God about the problems he was having to listen to God’s reply “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan” (Jeremiah 12:5); this sounds cold hearted but, consider this: if the ministry was easy and came with no hurdles, every fool and his brother would jump on the bandwagon. Many Ministers, teachers, and parents face the same conundrum daily. In some ways, it is easy to become angry with God and decry the injustice simply because, he led us into the battle and we might feel “forgotten” or “maybe this mission really was not of God” – I’ll call it the “Moses disease”.
We are powerless in life to change a person’s perspective and, as such, are not to worry about another person’s perspective; basically, mind your own business. All our best words whether spoken or written will not change people until the person themselves decide to change. God’s word calls each of us to look after our own mess, make wise choices, and keep our perspective in control. Consider Jesus’ words to Peter after the resurrection: three times Peter was asked “Do you love me more than the others”, three times Peter responded, “Yes Lord you know I love you”, and three times Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep”. The most important part of the communication and the tie into this writing is this: Peter asked about the Disciple John and Jesus replied “if I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21: 15-22). It is my contention, and scripture affirms, that the single biggest trap of our lives is when we stop looking at the field of our life and start looking on other people’s fields and trying to change them.
I own my perspective that is, I am responsible for it, must tend to it, and ensure that it is always in the right direction. If my perspective gets out of whack, only I can change it. In scripture, it speaks about the Judgement throne and how each of us will stand before Him and give an account of our life (2nd Corinthians 5:10); no one is exempt.