The day we moved into this two bedroom apartment I told my dad that it felt as if it were a mansion. Two weeks later it still does. I marvel at the open floor space, the living room in which my family can gather and more kitchen shelves than I have had the privilege to employ in many months.
A few weeks ago I was feeling a tad discouraged when I went to the storage building that holds most of my family’s earthly possessions. I gazed up at the rows of boxes that escalated to the ceiling and despaired of ever finding specific objects in these containers labeled cryptically “Sarah’s Stuff.” I’d stared like this on many occasions during the past few weeks and left with no success. I could climb up there, but the weight of the boxes certainly would cause some sort of disaster when I tried to retrieve them. On this day however, my uncle was present and he began the search. Soon down from the mountain came some of the items I had specifically wanted: a suitcase full of journals and my paint case. I was ecstatic. Later that afternoon I was overjoyed when my library card fell out of a stack of papers when I was cleaning the RV. I left that day feeling a bit blissful because of these happenings. I felt God was encouraging me by helping me find those specific things I had given up on finding until the day I unpacked everything.
The weeks that would follow brought new finds. My wok! My yarn! My winter coat! A movie I wanted to rent but had no idea we even owned! Each discovery left me excited.
All of this sounds a bit ridiculous, I know. You might think I’m being a tad silly and melodramatic.
When I told my dad that the apartment felt like a mansion he laughed and said, “It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?”
There have been times in my life when moving into a two bedroom apartment with three other people would have seemed like being shoved into a cage, and finding all of these everyday items would have been meaningless because they were regularly at my fingertips.
The difference is that now I am looking at things from another angle, from a place where these little things come with great happiness.
However, I am not always so quick to take a viewpoint of thankfulness.
I sometimes look at situations from my fleshly point of view and I’m displeased. I grumble. I want people to pity me. I feel trapped.
Perspective is a funny thing. Have you ever been able to look at mountains from an airplane window? One of the most beautiful sights I have beheld in my life was the view of the Alps as we flew above their frosted peaks. The beauty of these giants elicited praises from my weary heart. Those were real mountains, but mountains are often used as a depiction of a struggle to be overcome. Those struggles don’t look so beautiful and awe inspiring when you are hurrying along on the ground and run into one that must be crossed.
This is when perspective matters. When I come upon a struggle it is as if I am at the foot of a mountain, standing so close that the entire thing cannot fit into my field of vision. It is there I have a choice. I can choose to view this struggle from an eternal perspective or from ground level perspective. The eternal perspective is the big picture take on things, such as remembering the view from an airplane. I might not be able to see the entire picture from where I stand, but God can. He knows what the scene looks like and that there can be beauty in it, beauty that will point others to Him should we choose to walk in obedience. He knows what is waiting on the other side, and what will happen along the way.
Sometimes I dig my heels firmly in the dirt and stubbornly refuse to follow God’s prodding to move to where I have a better view, or to remember His view. I stand with my nose pressed against the cold stone of the mountain and whine because I cannot see past it. But when my selfish heart gives way and I walk in obedience, then the same situation looks better because I am taking on an eternal perspective. I’ll take the airplane view any day.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
(Colossians 3:2-4 ESV)