Walk not by Sight, but via the Big Picture
- 2006 30 Aug
We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
A hiker walked a lonely path in a driving rainstorm. Around him were magnificent mountains and lush valleys, but he couldn’t see the scene. The clouds were too dense and the rain too relentless. It was slow going, and all the hiker could go by were his map and compass. He certainly couldn’t walk by sight.
Meanwhile, an airplane passed overhead. From six miles up, a traveler in a window seat could see a gorgeous vista. There was a small cloud down below, but it didn’t cover much territory and certainly didn’t mar the scene. In fact, it accented the landscape’s color and form. It was a beautiful sight.
That’s a picture of life as we live it. The clouds are dense and the rain is relentless. Sometimes we can only see a few feet in front of us, and though the next step may be visible, it may not be right. If we don’t have a map and a compass with us, we have no idea where our path is taking us. Our inclination is to sit down in frustration and confusion, wondering why we started this hike to begin with. The last thing on our mind is enjoying the scene.
But that doesn’t mean the scene isn’t there. Just because the path is depressing doesn’t mean the destination is. We can make ourselves miserable right in the midst of majesty, all because we see the scene without the setting. We focus on what our eyes tell us, and we miss the bird’s-eye view. We translate “temporary” into “permanent” and base our emotions on an illusion. The trials that seem interminable aren’t.
An essential key to the joyful Christian life is perspective. People who are able to fix their eyes on the unseen, as Paul instructs, are able to weather the storms at ground level. If we can know that the landscape is gorgeous and that the rain will pass, we can enjoy the process and look forward to the view from above. If not, we will suffer miserably.
Few people enjoy misery, but we follow its recipe often. We meditate on our circumstances—especially the hard ones—looking for a way out, even while arguing with ourselves against the possibility of finding one. We lose our focus, fixing our eyes on what is seen and neglecting what is unseen. We become absorbed in “now” and oblivious to “forever,” and our hearts suffer from the wounds. We easily give up hope.
There are plenty of wounded hearts in this world, and they need someone to give them the view from six miles up. There really is a gorgeous landscape all around, and the cloud that envelops us really is temporary. That may sound like pie-in-the-sky thinking, but sometimes there really is a pie in the sky — or something better. And you won’t find it at ground level. You have to get above the clouds to see it. In the nuts and bolts of the daily grind, perspective really does matter. It’s the difference between hope and despair — or, to be more specific, between life and death. Because a life without hope isn’t actually a life.
A life filled with hope, however, is a blessing to those around it. It breathes resurrection into deathly situations, binding wounds and healing emotions. It is a source of encouragement and strength because it grants a high-altitude vision to a foggy-valley existence. It bases all of its faith and energy on truth — not on the visible pieces of evidence that look like truth, but on the actual eternal truth. Those who hope have understood the reality of the kingdom of God. Their attitudes are a statement about eternity and a picture of heaven.
If you have a negative attitude, repent. That may seem harsh, but nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to agree with the visible and ignore the invisible. We are taught remarkable truths that can only give life when seen from above and embraced by faith below. A negative attitude is a refusal to believe those invisible truths. It’s an affront to the promise from above. When we turn to hope, we agree with heaven. There’s no better way to get through a dense fog. There’s no other way to live.
Chris Tiegreen is a devotional writer and editor for Walk Thru the Bible’s indeed magazine and author of five books, including The One Year Walk With God Devotional, Why a Suffering World Makes Sense, and Violent Prayer. He and his family live in Atlanta. From indeed magazine, © 2006 Walk Thru the Bible. To learn more about indeed click here.