I have a joke about perspective to tell you. A general and his young subordinate, as well as a Grandmother and her beautiful granddaughter, are riding in the same train cabin. The train goes through a tunnel, and we hear the sound of a kiss, followed immediately by a loud smack against a face.
The Grandmother thinks to herself, “That young man really has the nerve, kissing my granddaughter like that! At least she had the sense to smack him!”
The granddaughter thinks to herself, “It was awfully sweet of the young soldier to kiss me, but I am so embarrassed my Grandmother smacked him so hard!”
The General thought to himself, “My soldier showed some great courage kissing that girl like that, but why did she have to smack me?!”
The young soldier is the only one who knew the whole story – he was able to kiss a beautiful girl and slap his superior officer!
Corny joke, I know, but it shows a vivid point on what we want to look at today; perspective. Perspective can be described as a particular attitude or a point of view. And as we saw above, only one person had the right perspective of the events that unfolded. So, what does this have to do with you? Everything.
My wife and I rent a nice, two-story house on a farm that has plenty of space for us and our cat! However, the upstairs has never had heat, so that part of our home has remained unused during the wintertime. This year, our landlord decided that he would install heating into our upstairs as a way of ensuring we remain happy, paying tenants. It was a wonderful development that allowed us to throw a party and have 14 people in our upstairs for a dinner in November. That was the first, and only time we’ve used the heat upstairs so far.
But, as residents of south-central Pennsylvania, we’ve been experiencing temperatures in the single digits – well below freezing. Since my wife and I hadn’t had to deal with heat upstairs for several years, that fact didn’t get a second thought. Our mistake became abundantly clear when a significant amount of water began leaking from our upstairs to our downstairs. Lo and behold, we come to find that our pipes froze and burst! The rug upstairs was soaked, the ceiling was water damaged and the newly installed pipes…done for. Needless to say, neither my wife or I were happy.
Many people would probably be really upset at this point. We were too at first, especially toward ourselves for the mistake we made. However, since that first night, we’ve changed our attitudes toward the situation. Why? Because our perspective shifted. While we may have lost some sleep fixing what we could at that point in time, imagine what would have happened if we had fallen asleep first? The water would have kept running all throughout the night. How upset might have we been then? It could have been so much worse!
Let’s be direct; Do you trust God? Do you trust He is good when our circumstances look bad? What is goodness anyway? Losing sleep, and possibly your reputation with your landlord is definitely not good. Losing a lot of money on a bad business deal or investment surely isn’t good. Neither is losing a loved one who never got to experience what the world would call a full life. But do you trust God in those situations?
Look at the life of Jesus. Here’s a man – the only sinless man to have lived – who was scorned by his contemporaries, persecuted by his peers, and ultimately crucified on a cross. Jesus died at the age of 33 having not experienced a “full” life. He did not have a wife, he had no children. And this was the son of God we are talking about. Now, if you have the perspective of the world, you see a God who didn’t come and rescue Jesus Christ. People can and do get mad at Him for that.
But that perspective is wrong.
It’s a wordly viewpoint that misses the full picture; it is not of God. God’s perspective was that He was rescuing the world through the work of Christ on the cross. Jesus Christ paid for every sin that had been committed, is being committed, or will be committed, by his ultimate sacrifice of love. God was purchasing a way for all of us to experience eternity with Him in gladness, instead of an eternity separated from Him in misery.
If we think our existence is only about this life, the one that we are living now, then we look at all of our situations through a distorted lens. We ask God where He was when our pipes froze and burst and made a mess of things. We ask God where He was when our loved one died after a fight with a disease, or where He is when all the evil things that happen in this world continue to happen. But, just as Pastor Jimmy Nimon stated in his recent message, God might answer those questions with this sentence: “I’m in the same place I was when Jesus was crucified.”
“Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:20-21
If you want to go higher, you need the right perspective about what life is all about. You need to trust God. Trust that God is still reigning and still watching over us. The right perspective isn’t about the fulfillment of personal pleasure. God’s perspective, which is about fulfilling and answering His call upon your life. Our challenge to you is to continue to seek out that calling and change your perspective from your own to God’s.
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