A Story on Perspective

Take a minute and read and consider this story.

People were sitting quietly. Some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene. Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed. The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.

  “It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, ‘Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?’”

  “The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, ‘Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.’

  Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm (heart) shifted. Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man’s pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. ‘You’re wife just died? Oh, I’m so sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?’ Everything changed in an instant.”   (Stephen Covey)

Now consider the Holy Spirit’s words in (Galatians 6:1-5).

1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.

 What did you think of in this exercise? What comes to my mind is the importance of knowing and participating in the lives of those I love…especially the brethren. If I know them and participate in their lives, I will understand better their circumstances. If I better understand their circumstances, I will have more patience with what I might be observing in their lives and seek out opportunities to help rather than chastise or be annoyed. If I seek out opportunities to help, those I love will be lifted up and God will be gloried and the law of Christ is fulfilled…and His law is love.

We all have spiritual and physical burdens to carry but God has given us one another to be a helper to each other and sometimes that “one thing” we carry for another is just enough. Meditate on this today. Pray God would turn your eyes and heart to other’s lives. Have the courage to love them.

Like Yesterday

For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; in the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; toward evening it fades and withers away (Psalms 90:4-6).

For all our days have declined in Your fury; we have finished our years like a sigh. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom (Psalms 90:9-12).

Like yesterday

Time, space and matter are all things God created. He created them all at the same time. “In the beginning (time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter)” (Genesis 1:1). In order for God to create them He must be outside and independent of space, time and matter. That whole concept simply blows my mind, I just cannot fathom a Being like that. I believe it, but I just don’t comprehend it.

Since God is outside of time and independent of time, He has a completely different perspective of time. Moses said that 1,000 years are “like yesterday” to God. It is just a blip on the radar, it is the same as one day to God. Peter also repeated this concept in his second letter (2 Peter 3:9). A millennium to God is like grass that springs up and is cut down and withers.

In contrast to God, we humans are all about time. Have you stopped recently to ponder how obsessed we are with time? Sometimes we are just so impatient and in a hurry because of our mixed up earthly perception of time. It affects our decision making at work and school, we get in a hurry and make mistakes. Our lack of perspective on time gets in the way when it comes to how we deal with others. Instead of giving them time to grow and develop, we want instant change…this minute! We also at times lose sight of how brief our time is on this earth.

This Psalm of Moses is there to help sober us up a little bit. Moses’ prayer to God in this Psalm was for God to help him and all of us to have a wiser perspective on the brevity of life and to see time how God sees it. Hopefully we will become more patient because of this renewed perspective. With God’s help we can see how precious each moment is and to “number our days.” Make the most of the very brief time God has given us.

According to this Psalm, we generally live 70-80 years. Think about that for a moment. If 1,000 years is like a day to God, then 70-80 years is like the blink of an eye.

“Making the most of your time…” (Ephesians 5:16).

 

Gaining Proper Perspective

Gaining Proper Perspective: Grab a bible and read Psalm 73.

The writer has been observing the lives of the arrogant and wicked.  He sees their prosperity, their lack of pain and suffering.  He sees their pride, their mocking, and total disregard for God and he is envious.  In verse 3 he says, “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”  In verse 21 he says, “my heart was embittered.”  As he looked at this reality he drew the preliminary conclusion that we see in verses 13 and 14.  “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence; for I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning.”  Why work to stay pure and innocent when the result has been pain and suffering?  Why not give up and give in to the world and partake in the prosperity of the wicked?

But that was just his preliminary conclusion.  As we continue reading we see how the writer’s thought process continues.  First, he is careful not to voice his doubts and frustrations, especially to those less mature in their walk with God.  Verse 15, “If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.”  Second, verse 16 says, “When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight.”  The writer doesn’t just act on his initial observations and feelings, his envy, but he stops to ponder the situation.  Finally, he gains clarity when he enters the sanctuary of God.  Verse 17, “Until I came into the sanctuary of God; I perceived their end.”  In safety and the presence of God he looks past his immediate circumstances and the circumstances of the wicked, and he realizes the true reality.

Verses 18 through 20, the reality is that the result of a life of wickedness and arrogance and total disregard for God will be destruction and terror.  I love the imagery in verse 20, “Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.”  The life of the prosperous wicked is no more than a dream that will end as a nightmare.  In His time, when God is aroused, He will deal with those who have rebelled against Him.

“When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was a beast before You” (verse 21-22).  To be envious of the prosperity of the wicked is shortsighted and ignorant so our writer takes hold of God’s hand and allows God’s counsel to guide him.  The conclusion, with all things considered, is one of the most beautiful passages in all of scripture.  “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.  But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”  All the things of this life, the money, the power, the pleasures, the entertainment, the hobbies, the stuff…it is all passing away.  What is my “good”?  Where is my strength?  Where do I take refuge?  If the Lord God, the King and Creator, is my portion then I have everything!

Now here is the most important perspective from this entire Psalm.  The writer doesn’t just decide he SHOULDN’T be envious of the wicked, he decides that there is NOTHING of which to be envious!  In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul puts it like this “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”  Paul doesn’t just say, “I gave up a lot of stuff for Christ.”  Paul says, “I gave up a lot of stuff for Christ and it was all rubbish…junk…garbage.”  Too often I have pursued my walk with Christ giving up the things of this world with a feeling of resignation.  “Well I’m a Christian, I can’t do that anymore.”  “Well I’m a Christian, those things shouldn’t be important anymore.”  In reality, those “things” have no value, those “things” are all garbage and the value of knowing Christ outweighs everything this world could possibly offer.  My walk is not one of suppressed longing for the world but one of victory in Christ, overcoming the world, and being at home with my Father.  We should let go of the false dreams and promises of the world and take hold of that which is LIFE indeed!

The nearness of God is my good.