Perspective is a term used in art and attitude. We’ve all had the experience of staring at a problem so long that our eyes glaze over and our options close in like a rusty iron gate. “Stepping back,” “sleeping on it,” or “starting fresh” are expressions we use to describe getting a new perspective. In understanding our circumstances, perspective is often the key to seeing God at work in the meanderings of our lives.
Linda and I took a long weekend and visited the Grand Canyon. We went for three reasons: I had plane tickets to use; neither of us had seen it; and I was in sore need of a fresh perspective. Standing in front of beautifully carved rock layers that are a mile deep, 10 miles wide and 270 miles long, one might think a preacher would have something to say. The dictionary doesn’t contain enough superlatives. The postcards fall way short and the pictures in the National Geographic don’t do it justice, at all. Immediately, the scripture comes to mind…
“They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:19-20 NLT).
The Grand Canyon was created as tectonic plates of the continent collided head-on and pushed much of northern Arizona up into a plateau with an elevation of about 7,000 feet. The Colorado River drops 2,000 feet as it cuts through the length of the canyon. Layers of rock of differing hardness are broken down through erosion and collapse. The mighty Colorado carves, washes and carries it all away to leave the most spectacular sculpture imaginable. Looking across a 10-mile gap, you can see what looks to be a small cave, (it’s actually several hundred feet in diameter). The rock layer in which this cave is cut is the exact same layer from which Mammoth Cave is cut in Kentucky. This is an indescribably awesome creation. God is at work doing powerful and beautiful things. My life and my problems seem suddenly so trifling, yet each of our lives are a part of this powerfully majestic symphony God is composing.
Perspective permits each of us to play our part in God’s ongoing design. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of God clothing the flowers of the field; God knows the welfare of every bird. God keeps an inventory of the number of hairs on our heads, (the number decreases daily in my account). Jesus goes on to say,
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:31-34 NLT).
Perspective is one of the most challenging elements of our faith to maintain. The worries of this world can be so persistently burdensome. Sometimes the issues are so stubborn and complex that there is no viewpoint from which a human can understand. We persevere in our faith. Occasionally, through the Holy Spirit, we are permitted to see from a heavenly perspective. In the second book of Kings, Elijah and his assistant were encircled by a hostile army. Elijah’s attendant cried out in fear. Elijah, the man of faith, said,
“ ‘Don’t be afraid!’ Elisha told him. ‘For there are more on our side than on theirs!’ Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!’ The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” (II Kings 6:16-17 NLT).
As I’m typing this morning, news has come of a devastating earthquake in Nepal; ISIS is the unsolvable terror of the Middle East; and Washington… is still Washington. All the while, you may be in the battle of your life with pain, loss, disease, depression or heartache. Your challenges are real and I won’t trivialize them by offering easy answers. All I can say is that God cares for you and He knows your needs. I am convinced there are eternal purposes, whether or not we see them from our present vantage points. The second chapter of Hebrews speaks of perspective. We know that God has placed all things under Jesus’ authority, but, painfully, we can’t yet see the outcome from our present viewpoint. The good news is though we can’t see the conclusion, by faith, we see Jesus. That’s a perspective that changes everything.
” ‘You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus” ” (Hebrews 2:8-9 NASB).