Thursday, January 27, 2011

Perspective . . .


From a web page copyrighted by Michael Richmond under Creative Commons License. 
This morning, during Family Worship, we got to the middle of Acts 4. Peter and John have just been threatened by the powerful religious people, and warned not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. They have replied with that line that I hope always marks my life, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19).

Afterwords, they leave and go to their friends and report what the chief priests and elders said to them. Acts 4:24 records the beginning of the response of them all: And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, . . ."

The prayer goes on about how gentiles and kings and rulers plotted in vain and set themselves in vain against the Lord, and how God brought His will to pass in the life of Jesus despite all their efforts. Then, at the end of the prayer, for the last two of seven verses, they made their request, "And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus" (Acts 4:29-30).

It struck me how, faced with overwhelming odds and obstacles in the physical world, they didn't all immediately beginning bemoaning their situation, or crying out for help, or talking negatively, or sagging their heads in hopelessness, or praying about their problem and how huge it was. Instead, they began exalting God and making praises to Him about how He made all of Creation and how nations plot in vain against Him. They did this for 5/7 of their prayer! Then, almost as a tag at the end, they make their request.

It reminds me of David, faced with Goliath. He didn't try and talk down or deny Goliath's obvious strengths, "You aren't really over nine feet tall! You don't really have armor! You don't really have an armor bearer! You aren't really a great warrior!" No, instead, David just went right past Goliath to One who was bigger than him—to the One who, against all earthly odds, delivered to David the wild animals threatening his father's sheep. He didn't deny Goliath's strengths, or focus on Goliath's strengths—he just focused on His mighty God, Deliverer, and walked with confidence in spite of Goliath's strengths.

I find that facing obstacles as Christians isn't about denying the obstacle, but about reminding ourselves of who our God is. As I shared at our Family Worship, when you start to praise God and focus on how mighty and huge and powerful He is it seems to automatically put the other things in proper perspective. We can lose sight of our God, and things of the earth become bigger than they should be. Sometimes we need to sit back, be still, and know that He is God!

When I get overwhelmed, or things are pressing in, I will often step outside and look up at the stars. I will remind myself that I am only seeing a fraction of them, that most of them would make the earth look like a golf ball next to a house, that they are so far away that the distance is unfathomable to me, and that my God breathes them out, puts them in place, and knows them all by name . . . and that He knows the number of hairs on my head, and loves me enough to die for me. It is wonderful the peace that most often accompanies those moments. It is not that the problem on earth changed any, it is just that I put it all back in to perspective.

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