Perspective and Bedtime

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By Brian Sharpe

Why is it so easy to lose something that is so important? Why is it so easy to focus on what doesn’t matter versus what does? Why is it so easy for us to get distracted from the mission God has called us to live? I know I forget way too quickly that I am here for a purpose, and that purpose is not my pleasure.

Since I became a father it has been my job at night to put my kids to bed. The more kids I’ve had, the less fun I’ve had putting them to bed. The original thought was that Tomina was with them all day, so this was a chance that I had with my kids that I could make special. I sometimes read them a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible and then pray with them. It always amazes me how much time they want to spend with me when they want to stay up longer. While this has a little to do with me, it has more to do with the fact that they don’t feel ready for bed. Almost every night I will go back into their rooms and check on them before I go to bed. When I check on Joel, he sometimes will wake up enough to give me a hug and a kiss and tell me he loves me. Then he will drift back off into sleep land.

It is at those moments that I feel my perspective being challenged. It is at those moments that I remember the way God feels about me, because I know what I am feeling about my son. It doesn’t matter what happened that day. He could have been the biggest pill, but, at that moment, I am overcome with how much I love that boy. Then my thoughts go to, God loves me so much more than this.

As we go through life, we have these moments where our perspective is challenged and even changed. God uses our experiences to remind us of His love for us. He also reminds us that He is here. It is when I remember that God is with us and that He has called us that I remember I am here for a reason. My reason is to be His witness to everyone I know. It is a perspective thing. We cannot forget what we are called to do. We cannot forget how much God loves us, and remembering that should compel us to share Christ with those around us.

Think about what matters to you, what you focus on most. Does it have eternal value? Is it helping you accomplish the missions God has you on while you’re here on this earth? We are not guaranteed tomorrow. That statement is not to guilt or shame anyone, but to put life into perspective. Life is short. God loves us and has called us to Himself. Because of this, we need to live on mission, sharing His love with those we come into contact with. It is a perspective thing, and perspective is a funny thing.

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Strangely Dim

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By Tom Chase

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, burdened, defeated, or just plain stressed out by all life has to throw your way? Hard times, difficulties, and troubles hit us, and I guess we shouldn’t be surprised since God tells us “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), but somehow I still get blindsided. All these difficulties, hard times, and troubles in life can show up on our doorsteps for a host of reasons. Sometimes it is us succumbing to our sinful nature, sometimes it’s making poor choices, sometimes it’s just life, and still other times I guess we simply have no idea why. We can get a small glimpse of God’s purpose from James: “…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3). Somehow, I simply don’t achieve “pure joy” at the arrival of hard times. Lord, help me in that!

It’s funny. I can get stressed on both sides of the same issue. Here’s what I mean: it was not that long ago I was earnestly praying, hoping to get enough work to pay my employees and pay the salary for my partner and myself. While I felt mostly at peace about the situation, I found it real easy to get stressed out about the whole thing. Now a relatively short time later, God has answered those prayers in a big way, we have so much work that I can get stressed out just trying to figure out how to get it all done—working long hours, hoping to make all the deadlines. How is that possible?

As I write this article, my heart goes out to all of you who are experiencing hard times, who are hurting, who feel that life has hit really hard, whether by broken dreams, health issues, struggling relationships, the wrong amount of work, financial difficulties, housing needs, or the loss of someone. So what are we to do? I understand that what I am about to suggest is somewhat simplistic in that there is much for us to consider, but there is hope! The weight of what we carry can at times be helped by changing our perspective to an eternal one.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

If this is all there is, then life would be pretty hopeless. But this is not all there is. Those in Christ Jesus have an infinite amount of time, an eternity in His presence, where there is joy evermore (yeah!).

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

This time on earth, though extremely limited in the light of eternity, is our time to live life as a response to God. We (especially I) need to be reminded of the truth of who He is and all He has done. I guess this is how Paul can speak of our troubles as “light and momentary.” Now that is a change of perspective.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I know that this change in perspective does not make all our troubles disappear. But our focus on eternal things and the eternal One diminishes the havoc that all these concerns create in our life. The song “Strangely Dim” by Francesca Battistelli has been encouraging me to adjust my perspective to the eternal:

I’m gonna fix my eyes on all that You are
‘Til every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
Let all my worries fade
And fall to the ground
I’m gonna seek Your face
And not look around
‘Til the place I’m in
Grows strangely, strangely, strangely dim.

(for more …)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjmZ2v0niCI

Keep looking up!

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