Perspective, Act 1
In my previous blog post I shared that the first few weeks of 2021 were less than stellar. As the year has progressed, things have not improved really. Despite my many desperate prayers, I still have a wound in my heart that just won’t heal. And apart from the nights I take Lunesta, I don’t sleep much.
During one of these sleepless nights, I decided to turn on my computer and found myself reluctantly reading Ann’s post on the Glorious Table, One Word, Given by God. Reluctant because I had tried the One Word thing in the past, and it might have helped a little, but honestly wasn’t all that life changing. However, Ann wrote so eloquently about how she had benefitted from this exercise that I decided to give it another try. I eventually fell asleep that night after asking God to give me a word for the year.
The next morning I woke up and the word, perspective was on my mind. But not only that– the Lord immediately reminded me of the scripture, from 1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” AND the song by Brandon Heath, Give Me Your Eyes, began to play in my mind. Since God knows that I love to second guess him and his revelations to me, I believe he gave me the very three things Ann talked about, instantly, so I would not doubt that this word came from him.
Yes, God – I hear you. And yes, please give me your perspective.
So that day, I put the song on repeat and began to earnestly pray for his perspective. And it helped. I can’t say I understood any of my circumstances any better. But, focusing on trying to see things through the lens of God did provide some measure of peace to get me through that sleep-deprived day.
However, the wound in my heart continued to grow. And those that I blamed for causing it still seemed totally unconcerned about me. My pleas to God remained unanswered: “God, what is your perspective in this hurt? What do you want to show me? Why can’t I see a way out?”
These all seemed like the type of perspective seeking questions any good Christian would ask. So why wasn’t God answering?
I felt as if I had been watching a play of my recent experiences; the show ended, and everyone left the theater. I was the only one unsatisfied with the unhappy and incomplete ending. So, there I stood shouting at the stage, “Wait! What happens next?” The only response was the lights being turned off.
About a week later, I began my quiet time with God again asking for his perspective on these recent events, truly not expecting any answer because it seemed he was silent on the subject. However, I know that because he is faithful, he heard my complaining about my troubles (Psalm 142:2). He also reminded me that he has a plan for me, better than the one I was seeing at the moment (Jeremiah 29:11).
Since I was finally growing weary of scrolling through my litany of complaints again, God began to gently direct me to examine my own heart, again. I felt like I had done this since the beginning of this season of turmoil, but that examination almost always ended in what I called righteous anger. So, it is easy to understand why God in his mercy would not let me off the hook when it came to my heart. I needed to look deeper.
God, what is your perspective on my heart?
He showed me that while my heart was hurting, that my choice to rehearse those hurts was leading to anger and bitterness. And before you ask, he definitely didn’t call my anger righteous! Shocking, I know. These weren’t really new revelations to me – I could literally feel the bitterness inside me and see that it was truly blocking me from receiving his peace over the situation.
But he graciously also showed me that when I thought I was virtuously praying for his perspective I was expecting him to answer it on my terms. I wanted something that he never promised to provide: I wanted to see the heart motive of the others involved.
My erroneous thinking stemmed from that 1 Samuel verse; where God says people look at the outward appearance, but he looks at the heart. I thought by seeking his perspective I had the right to see their hearts. But that is not the promise here. God is simply letting us know that his vision into each one of us is perfect and that we should trust his vision rather than our own.
If I need his help to understand the motives of my own deceitful and offensive heart (Jeremiah 17:9 and Psalm 139:23-24) how could I ever hope to understand the motives of someone else’s heart? That knowledge would be too much for me. God knows that with that knowledge I would climb on the judge’s bench, grab the gavel and declare everyone guilty without any hesitation and without mercy!
Father God, forgive me! Is it ok to ask for perspective?
Yes! He reassured me that asking for perspective is good. So now the question is how do I get his perspective?
I can’t count the number of times in my life when I heard God tell to do something and I would enthusiastically jump in with both feet! Then, after a quick failure I would need to come back to him for more instruction. My most memorable redirection came after God called me to homeschool my kids. Wow – what a dreadful start we had on that adventure! It didn’t take me or my precious children long to realize that attempting that endeavor without asking him HOW to home school was a gross error!
It was the same with this whole One Word focus on “perspective” for 2021; God gave me the word, I decided how to apply it. Oddly the word, perspective, isn’t in the Bible in the NIV version. But God does give us plenty of direction on where to focus our attention. He tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:18 to “...fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” He also directs us in Hebrews 12:2 to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.”
I have a dear friend who has the gifts of prayer and prophecy. The Lord often gives her visions while she prays over people. I asked her to meet and pray with me since I had been struggling. As she was praying, she got of vision of me walking on storm-tossed water, much like Peter did, and she spoke these words over me: “keep your gaze on the Lord Jesus, just fix your eyes on him.” As she prayed, I could also see Jesus standing in front of me, and heard him say, “if you bend down to pick up any burden that is not yours to carry, you will lose your focus and begin to drown.”
Clearly this was my redirect. I had so desperately wanted to stand next to Jesus and try to see others through his eyes. I thought when he brought that Brandon Heath song to mind, that was the prayer I was supposed to echo. Instead, he was asking me to give him my eyes – not the other way around. He knew my heart motive was set on judgement, on trying to right their wrongs and correct their thinking. He was gently reminding me that was his burden, not mine.
In this brief article from Abundant Living Faith Center: How to Have a God Perspective?, author Jared Nieman explains that the word “perspective comes from a Latin word, perspicere, which means to ‘look through or beyond’. Our human perspective can only ‘look at…, but a God perspective actually looks through or beyond our human perspectives.”
As I opened my Bible this morning, I read the account of Jesus’ crucifixion in Luke 23. It is so hard to read and imagine the anguish our Lord suffered. But today I was amazed again at how he was able to speak forgiveness while he was hanging on the cross: When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”(Luke 23:33-34)
I was struck again at how off-track my pursuit of perspective had gotten! Until I can look into my saviour’s eyes, at the moment of his greatest pain and sorrow, and see the love he had for me, for all of us, I will never be able to “see though his eyes.” So as I continue to read my Bible I will keep asking to see Jesus more clearly. To see the love he has for me, and then maybe I can begin to see others with his perspective.
Obviously, I still have so much more to learn about perspective this year. That’s why I called this piece, Perspective, Act 1. The play will resume, and I pray I will have many more opportunities to gain his perspective. I pray to see through his eyes, to see beyond in the way he shows me, not the way I think. All I know for now is that his perspective will come AFTER I learn to fix my eyes on Jesus, alone.