When fighting a wildland fire we (our volunteer department, along with state agencies we work with and, I would imagine, all fire services) often post lookouts to keep an eye on the big picture of the fire around us. You get such tunnel vision when you are up in the flames and attacking the fire and adding lengths of hose and hot and tired that you might not even see the fire has jumped the line behind you, and is circling onto you or is cutting off your escape routes. The military faces similar problems when the intensity of the moment so narrowly focuses you that you miss the bigger picture happening around you. I am sure many, many other professions or situations face the same thing . . .
As Christians I have a sense that in our daily life we can often get so focused on the situation or person in front of us that we are dealing with that we can easily lose sight of the bigger picture as well. This can be dangerous, especially in causing us to give a home to unBiblical thoughts and attitudes that can rob our joy, cause us to feel defeated, start to live under burdens that God is not placing on us, give root to unGodly emotions, etc. I had the thought this morning as I reflected on the lives of many people I know, that there are three areas (these are just the ones that came to me almost immediately) that we might, with a subtle shift of perspective, dramatically bless our daily walk and faith. They are:
An Offering: What if, for example, we are dealing with a boss who is, simply, a jerk. We can as Christians look at them so much they fill our whole frame of view. We can become filled with the guilty back and forth in our heads, "I'm supposed to love them. I have to love them. I am supposed to submit to them, etc." We could repaint this example with any number of situations that similar thoughts might fill us with. No matter the scenario, if we simply let them fill our focus it becomes a miserable effort for us. But, what if we stepped back and said, "I can love them as my deeply personal offering to God. I can submit to them as my worship to the One who humbled Himself and died for me. Lord, I am going to love this person and I give you this love as my offering and worship. You, Father, who first loved me that I could love You. I love for You and it is a gift I joyously give You." I wonder how much of a difference it would make if we didn't make it about the person, but about Him? If we saw that love we were about to give as a gift wrapped up and as we begin to love we pictured ourselves handing that gift to Jesus on the throne, and Him taking it with His nail-scared hands?
Not the Enemy: Ephesians 6:10-12 encourages us and tells us, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (ESV) What if, instead of becomming so focused on the person causing us such pain, we could remember to see that they are not our real enemy but rather we are in a spiritual war? If we can direct our anger at the real source and recognize that the person in front of us is simply a part of the fallen world and the spiritual war we are in, it might really help us to see things properly and to let go of some of the hatred and anger in us toward them that cripples our walk, our faith, our relationship with God, etc. If we can keep the real enemy the real enemy it will, I believe, help prevent roots of bitterness and a lot of wasted effort and energy directed at something that isn't going to change anything.
Unto Jesus: In Matthew 25:34-40 Jesus tells us of a future time. He says, "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' " (ESV) What if, instead of just seeing a need in front of us, we could see it as a chance to minister unto God Himself? What if, instead of one more thing calling on our already thin resources we could see that person and realize that what we do unto them Jesus receives as if it was done unto Him, Himself? Might it feel different to realize that what we do unto that person is seen, by God, as a personal ministry to Him?
These are just a few things that came to me in my reflections. I wanted to share them with you in the hopes they might bless you this day as well. If this concept of perspective being important in the daily Christian life speaks to you, you might also want to check out my Oct. 24, 2012 post: Taking a Step Back. I hope you have an amazing week, deeply aware of His love for you. Thanks for reading and sharing in my life. —Erick