It's All a Matter of Perspective
- 2011 10 Mar
I was recently reminiscent of the time my third-grade class had a pet mouse. We would place him in a maze and watch him try to navigate a number of turns in order to find the cheese. He would eventually find it, but not before going down many wrong paths and into several dead-ends. From above the labyrinth the class was able to see each move, "right" or "wrong," often trying to encourage or coax him into finding the path to the prize.
Occasionally I wonder if this is how God looks down on us at times as we plot our course in life.
Many of us were introduced to the verse 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!", when we accepted Jesus and changed our life. The preceding verse can give us some insight on how we should view our life.
So from now on we regard no one (or nothing) from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer (2 Corinthians 5:16).
In my college architecture classes, before computers did a lot of the work, I had to draw my design project from a number of perspectives in order for my professor to determine whether I understood and accounted for all aspects of the structure I was designing. I had to consider how the building would look from the street and from the neighboring properties, how it would impact the environment and those around it, and how wind and sun would affect the structure both inside and out, as well as functioning in a way the occupants desired.
What those years of design exercises taught me was to not look at every situation from my lone perspective, but to consider how each decision I make (or situation encountered) could and would impact others as well as the project as a whole. My classmates would oftentimes critique my design noticing something I never even considered. In other words, although I was extremely meticulous and cognizant of every minute detail of my work, it trained me to step back and view everything from another angle or point of view.
It's similar to being lost in a big city where you know you are near your destination, but just can't find the way. Fortunately for many of us (men) who wouldn't normally ask for directions, we now have GPS (global positioning system) devices and are able to quickly determine where we are and where we are going. How? We change our perspective from being on the street to being above it.
In a comparable way, we can transform the way we look at our life into the way God sees it.
At times I have wondered about the direction my life has taken (or not) and speculated, "How would it have been different had I made ‘that' choice instead of the one I did?", "Where would I be had I stayed in the city where I grew up rather than moved?", "Would I be any closer to ‘the prize' (or my desires) had I…." It's easy for me to focus on those things I am (supposedly) "lacking" and start grumbling, "I'm not married, I don't have children, I don't have a conventional job, I don't feel settled….", but when those thoughts start to creep in I always seem to hear the Lord's voice say, "Neither did I, you are back to seeing your life from a worldly point of view."
Oftentimes we limit our perspective to our own situation. We become so intertwined with our desires that we lose sight of the bigger picture and fail to consider all of those other things going on around us. I frequently have more questions and uncertainties about the direction of my life today than in years past, but I have been able to put them aside by focusing on thanking the Lord for leading me to where I am, for the lessons I have learned, for the people I have met and for the life I'm currently leading.
For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all his paths (Proverbs 5:21).
God's ways are different than our ways. He has gone before us and knows what lies ahead. His desire for us, as his followers, is to alter the way we look at ourselves, our lives, our situation, those around us and the world. He wants us to see things through his eyes and his perspective rather than our own worldly ones. God knows everything we do, all of our choices, the decisions we make and the impact of them all.
Most of us have missed out on "something" in life and we have all had (and will continue to have) a number of disappointments. Millions of books have even been sold trying to explain why "bad things" happen.
I used to look back at the trail of my seemingly unanswered prayers and missed opportunities with frustration and disappointment trying to figure out "why?" Now, with my gradually developing "God-perspective," I am able to praise him for protecting me from the hardships and struggles I would have faced had I "succeeded" with my own desires. Over time, I have learned to change my perception of only viewing circumstances through my eyes to actually discern the truth with his. I now understand how he always answers my prayers, sometimes with a "yes," sometimes with a "no," and often with "in my time."
The closer we get to view the world as God does the clearer our vision will become in knowing his will and path he wants us to walk.
Cindy Morgan wrote some poignant words many years ago (while she was single) in her song, "How Can I Ask for More."
So if there's anything I've learned
From this journey I am on
Simple truths will keep you going
Simple love will keep you strong
Cause there are questions without answers
Flames that never die
Heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise
So thank you Lord, oh thank you Lord
How could I ask for more
The simple truth is God loves us, oftentimes more than we ever realize and sometimes more than we love ourselves. His love is the only thing many of us have to hold onto during our solo journey.
Despite our unanswered questions, disappointments, loneliness, and struggles we seem to go through, how can we ask for more? He gave up his only son for us already.
May you begin to see your life from God's perspective and start to understand his ways for you.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways says the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to CYdmg@yahoo.com.