The Gift of Perspective
Today if I told you I had a gift I want to give you, but asked if you had a choice, what would you desire? Many might say more money, a good marriage, a wonderful career, or something more grandiose such as peace on earth. All these would be great answers.
While I hope those longings would be fulfilled, I have another gift that I want to impart to you: the gift of perspective. There are many definitions of perspective, but the one I like from Miriam/Webster is “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.”
From a Christian understanding I would define perspective as simply seeing things from God’s point of view. The Scriptures teach that God’s ways are not man’s ways and that God’s perspective is higher than humans. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
As true as that statement is, all of us battle seeing things from God’s perspective. We are so connected to things on the earth. We wish we could see things differently before making a decision that didn’t turn out the way we wanted. We usually call that hindsight. Even unbelievers will recognize the value of hindsight. So how do we get wisdom and understanding in the present (God’s perspective) so we don’t go through life always looking backwards?
My favorite Psalm is Psalm 73. The writer is sharing something that has occurred after the fact. He begins by making a statement of praise and then recounts how at points in the past he almost gave up on God. The reason for this despair is that he observed how wicked people never seem to have problems. They go through life happy, gain riches, have great health and all the while not caring at all about God.
The Psalmist says that his life was one of great pain and having trouble, the whole time serving God and doing the right things. While he still believed doing right was the way to live he was deeply troubled about why the wicked prosper. In his quest for understanding he goes into the sanctuary of God and there, miraculously, he gets his answer.
So what did he discover in the sanctuary? When a Jew went in the sanctuary he did one thing and one thing only. HE WORSHIPED! That’s right, he worshiped. As soon as he came out of the sanctuary, he saw things completely different. He felt the wicked were on the slippery slope of life, on the verge of destruction. Somehow he now saw himself in God’s grace and protection.
What changed? It wasn’t the outward, because these wicked people were still living the same life. But in that amazing experience in the sanctuary, somehow the Psalmist got God’s perspective and it changed his entire life.
The New Living Translation of Romans 12:2 is a powerful verse on perspective. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” Paul is saying ask God to see things from his perspective. This is so obvious but I often miss it. I need to ask God all the time to show me His perspective. If I can see it from his view, boy would that change my outlook on life. Of course it doesn’t always happen right away, seeing things from above as it were, but we must constantly strive to discover God’s view.
A simple example of this was one summer on vacation going from our home in the Phoenix area to San Diego, our car broke down when we got there. Normally I would get upset that this ruined our vacation, but then I thought, “what if this happened in the middle of nowhere, in the desert, in over 110 degrees.” I immediately felt grateful that the breakdown occurred in cool San Diego, in a populated area where we could get help. A perspective that lifted my spirits.
One more thing about perspective; it involves trust in God. While we are in the midst of trying to understand, we have to believe that God has our best interests at heart. We trust that Father knows best. Through all the pain and difficulty of life, we believe God is right there with us. We must passionately desire the mind of Christ.
As long as I have walked with the Lord I still question things I don’t understand. I go through situations where I don’t see or comprehend what He is doing. But at some point I have to surrender to Him in such a way that says I trust you no matter what.
The gift of perspective: free, life changing, and ultimately the best way to live.