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Posts Tagged ‘Perspective’

Outside of the Bible, there are two quotations I have used as creeds for decades. One is Alexander Hamilton’s “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” The other comes from a key chain I had in high school which featured a confident, dolled-up Miss Piggy proclaiming, “You’ve gotta go with whatcha got!” In the last year, however, I’ve added my own simple creed:

“Be fully present.”

Like many multitaskers, I spend too much of life physically present in one location and mentally in another. I feel like Luke Skywalker during his Jedi training–being poked in the chest and chastised by an irritated Yoda, “All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph.”

© Nicholas Sutcliffe | Dreamstime.com

In our pressure-cooker culture, I’m sure some  of you can relate. Physically, you’re watching your child’s soccer game, having lunch with a friend, or listening to a sermon…but mentally you’re organizing your schedule, making a grocery list, solving a conflict, or editing mistakes. Almost everyone has difficulty sustaining focus for long periods, but consistently choosing to be in two places at once can create several problems:

1. Divided Focus Can Be Unsafe

While driving, have you ever missed your turn because you mindlessly headed in a routine direction…rather than toward your actual destination? Some tasks are too critical for mental multitasking. We trust childcare providers, airline pilots, knife-wielding surgeons, drill-operating dentists, and coffee-bearing baristas to be fully present.

2. Divided Focus May Be Sin if…

  • you’re attending to the voice in your head more than listening to your “neighbor.” That’s called selfishness.
  • …the cause of your lack of focus is worry. The Bible is clear, “Do not be anxious about anything.”¹
  • …mental preoccupation hinders you from doing “whatever you do”…” with all your heart.”²

3. Divided Focus Can Rob You

Being “lost in thought” prevents you from: embracing moments with your children, fully enjoying the company of a friend, entering deeper into worship, maximizing time spent in God’s Word, or maintaining peace of mind. Divided focus can rob you of life’s simple pleasures and keep you from being content…whatever your circumstances.³

I’ve been praying for the mind of Christ and working on being fully present, but I’m not there yet. Not. Even. Close.  I’m going to keep trying to live my creed for several reasons…but especially because my time as a full-time mom is more than two-thirds gone. I don’t want to lose out on memories with my children because my mind is preoccupied. I want to be fully present. After all, “You must be present to win.”

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¹Matthew 6:25, 31, 34; Philippians 4:6

²Colossians 3:23

³Philippians 4:12

Photo Link: http://www.dreamstime.com/free-stock-photography-pensive-businesswoman-rimagefree405679-resi3675470

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Is viewpoint important? Ask an artist. His success is linked not only to skill, but to his “way of seeing” a person, place, object, or event. Discomfort, delight, disgust, or humor may surface when an art observer’s perception differs from the artist’s…which is why the following biblical paintings entertained my brain:

"Loths Flucht" (Lot's Escape), Albrecht Dürer, 1496

Somehow, I never  imagined Lot and his daughters escaping their exploding home so fashionably, calmly, or slowly. And it took me a long time to figure out that Lot’s daughter rescued some sort of yarn holder…and not a monkey on a stick. The figure in the background has “combo deal” privileges–it doubles as Lot’s salty wife and the Grim Reaper.

"Pharaoh's Daughter and Her Handmaids with Moses in the Reed Basket," Jan de Bray, 1661

Does anyone in the second painting look remotely Egyptian? Jan de Bray was famous for painting contemporary people in the pretext of historical events–vanity gifting the world with Baby Moses’ Discovery, the Shakespearean Edition.

'The Women at the Sepulchre" ("The Angel at the Tomb of Christ"), Benjamin West, 1805

Why is this awkwardly posed, flush-faced angel glaring over his shoulder? Is he angry because the women are ignoring him? Upset about his Poseidon-trident hairdo? Oh, and West’s model for the undignified angel must have been one of Gene Wilder’s ancestors.

My point is, the gap between these artists’ portrayals and my perspective produces humor. However, when there’s a gap between the way God is working and my perception of how He should be working…it’s not so funny. You see, viewpoints are crucial. They form beliefs, engage our emotions, and lead to actions.

In his book Our Ultimate Refuge, Oswald Chambers writes, “An accepted view of God has caused many a man to fail at the critical moment…only when he abandons his view of God for God Himself, does he become the right kind of man.”

In these tough times of job loss, financial strain, family conflict, and life-threatening illnesses; we don’t always understand the way God chooses to treat his children. Heartache rattles our view of God. IT IS OK when our finite minds do not comprehend what an infinite God is doing. However, we must trust the One who is doing it:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55: 8-9

Although I found the above paintings comical, many I viewed were beyond my imagination. Breathtaking. Insightful. Powerful.

"The Storm on the Sea of Galilee," Rembrandt van Rijn, 1633

And that’s why I’ve got to stop trying to fit God into my viewpoint. Stop “painting Him into a corner.” He’s the Master Artist. I’m the apprentice. And His painting of my life, of yours, will be “immeasurably more” beautiful than all we could “ask or imagine.¹”

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Are there areas where you need to abandon your “view of God for God Himself?²”

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¹Ephesians 3:20

²Oswald Chambers

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