Perspective

Descending into the ravine,
I hike along a well-worn path.

The towering Redwoods forbid the sunlight
from penetrating the tangled mess of branches above.

Thankful for the shade, I continue towards the basin.

The sound of moving water promises a creek awaiting.
Maybe even a modest waterfall.

A bridge leads me to another trail.

Skidding downwards, I land on a stone-bedded bank.

My toes take me to the water’s edge.

I kneel low. Camera poised.

Above. Below.
Across. Beside.

My feet never move, but from every angle, another scene emerges.

The bridge high above.
The trees all around.
The rocks strewn below.
The creek whistling by.

A situation comes to mind.

It’s so easy to convince ourselves
that we have complete understanding of any given situation.

It’s especially gratifying when our select group of friends
have the same interpretation, the same view.

But God is here.

He made the rocks, the trees, the water.

He speaks.

My feet never move, yet every picture I take
preserves another perspective of the same scene.

I am reminded that God’s perspective
is so much greater than our own.

God, forgive us when we convince ourselves that we know best, that we know all. Your ways are higher than our ways. And You see so much more than we see. Whenever we choose to consider a situation from a singular perspective, help us to see with spirit eyes — to see from Your perspective.

His light shines through.

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
~ Psalm 119:18

 

*Edited from archives. (While attending Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference, I took a walk, and when I reached this spot next to the water, I snapped as many shots as I could in every direction without moving my feet.)

A Sacrifice of Words

When February rolled around, my only ideas for Lent were ordinary — things I’ve done before.

I gave up red meat once, but my family made me promise never to do such a thing again. They were all quite tired of “Family Spaghetti Night” with runny red sauce. Where’s the beef?

I gave up caffeine for Lent too. Three years in a row. But as soon as the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection was over, I was drinking a Mountain Dew again faster than you could say, “Hallelujah!”

But this year, no inspiration came.

Well, a thought did occur to me. But I shrugged it off.

Then the same thought kept tugging at me. But it was too much. So I studied my Bible and prayed and listened — for something else.

It wouldn’t go away though. I heard His voice, not audibly, but gently calling me to sacrifice words. That’s right. Words!

I sensed God calling me to sacrifice the kind of words that seek to explain and justify. Basically, I needed to give up the desire to make sure everyone understands me, which is really the desire to control what other people think of me.

Lent is a time of preparation. And the more I have focused on the cross, the more I have realized that Jesus sacrificed His words too.

While standing before the high priest . . .

“The high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’” (Matthew 26:62).

“But Jesus remained silent” (Matthew 26:63).

While standing before Pilate . . .

“Then Pilate asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’” (Matthew 27:13).

“But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge — to the great amazement of the governor” (Matthew 27:14).

While standing before Herod . . .

“[Herod] plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer” (Luke 23:9).

Jesus could have rebuked his accusers with the Truth. He could have called upon legions of angels to rescue Him. But He sacrificed His words instead. He gave up His right to prove them wrong. Because proving Himself right was not as important as obeying His Father’s call.

His Father had a bigger plan — bigger than personal justification, bigger than personal comfort, and bigger than personal popularity.

The Father’s plan — to offer forgiveness to the very ones who accused Him — included you and me.

Jesus sacrificed everything, including His words.

For Lent this year, I have tried to give up words — the kind that attempt image control. God said to let that go. Just obey. And let Him lead, trusting that He has a bigger plan in mind.

This sacrifice of words has taught me that being right isn’t as important as being obedient.

Have you ever given up something for Lent?
What did you learn about Christ through your practice of sacrifice?

Love Delights

During the week of Valentine’s Day, the passage from I Corinthians 13:4-8 gets quoted quite a bit.

I can’t hear this passage without remembering the time I taught my son and daughter these words.

They were only four and five years old at the time, so I made a poster using a different color for each phrase. First, we focused on the red words: “Love is patient. Love is kind.”

Then we moved on to the orange words: “It does not envy. It does not boast.”

We proceeded in this colorful fashion until they had the entire passage memorized. It became our “First Corinthians Game.”

One morning, while I gathered laundry at the top of the stairs, I heard Parker say to his sister, “Let’s play First Corinthians!”

With a bored voice, Brynn responded, “No thanks.”

Undeterred, Parker said, “Okay. I’ll do it!”

At the top of the stairs, I stopped to listen and savor the moment.

In his tender four-year-old voice, Parker began: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not self-seeking.”

Just then, Brynn snapped at him, “It is not rude! You’re supposed to say, ‘It is not rude!’”

Parker had accidentally skipped that phrase, and Brynn took delight in pointing out her little brother’s error. An argument ensued.

Parker shouted back, “No! It is not self-seeking!”

Brynn yelled again, “No! It is not rude!”

My maternal moment of bliss was over. I had to go downstairs and break it up. Their words to each other were neither loving nor kind.

Later, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. Obviously, they had missed the point.

Sometimes we work so hard at getting it “right” that we miss the point too.

Sometimes we are quick to point out another person’s error.
Sometimes we take delight in another person’s mistake.

Yet . . .

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.

Love comes alongside a friend in despair.
Love rejoices in another person’s success.

Love delights.

Have you ever memorized I Corinthians 13:4-8?

Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes (although today I was closer to 7 minutes) to write about “delight.”