“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:9
The death of a goldfish, the unrequited love of a first crush, a failing grade on a math test…all of these can seem like huge tragedies in the life of a child, but looking back, they were mere bumps in the road of a long, well-lived life. It’s all a matter of PERSPECTIVE.
This is a simple, obvious lesson, and yet, whole lives can be ruined by forgetting it. If life is a river, we should expect times of drifting peacefully and times of roaring rapids, and perhaps a few waterfalls. In the midst of the thundering cascade, it’s very hard to consider the entirety of the river, but it is only by doing so, and by knowing who is captaining your canoe that you can find any kind of inner calm or peace in the journey when life seems that threatening. If Jesus isn’t in your boat, one might be tempted to end the journey when a miraculous salvation is just around the corner.
The difficulty of perspective was brought home to me on our flight back a few days ago. I’ve been sharing about my love of mountains. Alaska is certainly no slouch in THAT department! And Mount Rainer looms large over Seattle in a way that is almost unreal. However, my favorite mountains are still the Grand Tetons. And so, gazing out of the window of the airplane, I was stunned to see them below. I was also stunned at how immediately I recognized them, but there they were, tiny, but still impressive from 3,000 feet above. Then I considered how many times we had approached them by car, and how my heart leapt every time. They are impressively monumental. And I remembered our family trip to the top by cable car. We made a couple of similar trips to mountaintops last week. But honestly, the Tetons were a little more impressive because even at the top, the peaks loomed surreally large.
Those are the same mountains in all three photos: from above, at ground level and from up close. I considered what problems mountains can be. We often say ‘don’t make a mountain out of a molehill’ when advising friends or family. Because mountains really are problematic. They're steep and filled with predators. They often make their own weather, stopping clouds or making fog. All of those photos were taken in July, and they were still covered in snow. I thought about pioneers in their Conestoga wagons trying to cross the land in months that we were zipping over in hours. In those days, timing was everything, and mountain crossings had to be made only in the summer after the snow had melted and the rivers weren’t so swollen.
But from my God-like view, the land seemed nearly flat and the evidence of human settlement sparse. I thought about the glaciers and inland seas that they say carved this landscape over thousands of years. I saw a massive forest fire only minute or so later consuming all in its path. I considered how there are places in Alaska where they are gaining an inch or more per year of land as the earth slowly springs back up as the weight of the melting glaciers diminishes. Those kinds of things happen in God’s time. His perspective is high, and long and vast. Like our giant cruise ship, He has set His course, and is chugging along toward it. Our history is like the ferries, whales and otters moving quickly nearby, making little wake, and little change in the overall environment.
However, through Jesus, Christ, God gives us the opportunity to come aboard and see things from His perspective. From high above we see that all the things that loom so large in our daily lives are mere bumps in the road of eternity. We also can see that our lives, although they may seem short and insignificant, are part of a great cosmic life cycle, a universal environment, which have the potential to affect those around us for better or for worse. It took a lot of individual snowflakes falling 500 years ago to make the glaciers we see today, but there they are.
So, let’s be snowflakes. Snowflakes know their life is short, but they’re ‘cool’ with that because they get to see the world from God’s perspective for a brief time. They go to the mountaintops, perhaps get squeezed to become glaciers seen by thousands, or perhaps melt, joining with innumerable others creating streams of living water, nourishing and giving life wherever they go, giving themselves up completely until they rise back up to the heavens.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to gain perspective. Help me to see the beauty of the Earth, the beauty of my life and the beauty of Your plan for it all. Grant me your peace as I trust in You that “every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.” (Luke 3:5-6) Amen!