Counter-clockwise View

Changing of Perspective

At work (unless its raining) I love to walk a small circular path next to the lake outside my building. It is a pleasant and beautiful scene, accompanied by birds singing melodies,  frogs bellowing messages, and the geese gliding effortlessly across the water. And, on most days there is a warm breeze blowing to make the walk even more wonderful.  It truly is a peaceful, and lovely place to get in a little exercise. A couple of weeks ago, I was taking a fast-paced jaunt around this little circle when I decided to switch it up a bit and take 3 counter-clockwise loops. It was on my first  time around when the view made me pause and take in the beauty. You see, the scene traveling clockwise, while lovely, was very different from the one which arrested me mid-walk. I could hear Holy Spirit’s whisper in my soul – “Sometimes, you need to see things from a different angle Tonya, to get the better view.”

The presence of Jesus captured me in those moments.

The past month has been one sprinkled with uncertainty, fear and grief, yet  mixed with joy, and excitement. To say it has been a little odd would be an understatement. I have heard before, every new beginning starts with an ending.

Goodbyes are simply a part of moving into something new. I have felt those goodbyes down deep in a place only Jesus has access to. I am forever grateful His scars know how to heal.

The simplicity of choosing to switch up my routine walk led to a powerful moment of healing. God lovingly cupped my face in His hands, and turned my eyes to see things a bit differently. Instead of being disappointed in me for grieving the goodbyes I had said, He allowed me to see loving freely makes you vulnerable and open to making life-long connections. Those kind of goodbyes are hard.

Just ask the disciples.

Just ask anyone who has ever loved deeply.

It is ok to grieve forlorn farewells and greet happy hellos at the same time.

The change in view led me to see how life is full of sorrow and beauty – often at the same time. It is what makes life the journey it is. Jesus took a different approach to culture and religion, and He often took a route the disciples did not understand. After taking my counter-clockwise walk, I have thought about this a lot. I believe Christ wanted them to see things from a different perspective, to see life from His point of view.

The Craftsman who built with His hands was the Chief Cornerstone the builders rejected . The King born in stable, without an earthly throne, is the King of all Kings. The Healer who could raise the dead to life is the Physician who heals with nail-scarred hands. Yes, His truth is the wildly wonderful lens I want to view my life through.

It would be a tragedy to believe our lives could never be a mix of good and bad, ugly and beautiful, confidence and uncertainty or sorrow and rejoicing – often in concert with each other.

To try and not experience it fully because it feels odd, or seems way too hard, is to slight ourselves of the gorgeous blessings of a counter-clockwise view.

 

Well Able

My pastor brought a word to us a couple weeks ago which has been a source of challenge and comfort. I have read my notes over and over again to, as David did, encourage myself in the Lord! I long to be like Caleb and Joshua who were positive and ready to face the battle to get to the promise. Sometimes though, it is so easy to identify with the negative Neds who only saw the hurdles ahead – and embellished them with catastrophic thinking.

The land we have gone through is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw are of great height…and we seemed ourselves like grasshoppers to them…(Numbers 13:32-33)

The land which they passed through to spy out (was) an exceedingly good land. Yet, while all twelve spies saw that the land was good, not all of them had faith and confidence in God. And, as is still true today, misery loves company – and negativity battles to win the debate.

“Caleb quieted the congregation and said, Let us go up at once and occupy (the land,) for we are well able to overcome it…then the men who had gone up with him said, “we are not able to go up against the people for they are stronger than we are…” (Numbers 13:30-31)

Our focus affects our attitude and our attitude affects our actions. They go hand-in-hand.

Ten men saw the enemy as giants and themselves as grasshoppers. They chose to focus on the potential problem and not the promise of their powerful God. Therefore they expected a sure defeat. Their miserable attitude had them angry against the two whose faith-filled stance had their vantage point fixed on whole of God’s promise. Both sets of spies encountered the exact same scene yet their focus was vastly different.

The way we interpret the facts dictates what we see to be true. We are responsible for how we get over the hurdles in life…we are good at seeing problems but not coming up with solutions…we are so ready to give up and forget all He has done for us…for every problem there is a solution if God is in the equation…let God do His thing!” -Pastor Bill Muller

This world hasn’t changed much since the days of Moses, it is still set and ready to suck the joy out of our journeys. But the Lord is still keeping His promises. And, at the close of the day, how we have chosen to see our circumstances will affect our ability to have peace and strength to navigate the obstacles and enjoy the sweetness God has already promised us.

It is a milk-and-honey kind of sweet to know the Lord walks with His own, and delights to give us His best – a land flowing with goodness!

So, let’s go up at once and occupy it, for in the power of the almighty we are well able to overcome it!

Simple Sunrises – Perfect Vision

Perfect Vision

Have you ever wondered why some days seem extra-ordinary and some just seem a little less? I have. Yet, the more I age, the more I seem to long for those days which are, to others, a little less grand. I don’t think I realized my need for ordinary until I watched a sunrise that was not colored with hues of majestic proportions. I had never noticed how wonderfully comforting it could be to experience a sky filled with the simplicity of basic colors – and fewer strokes from the Master’s paintbrush.

So often I stumble when I allow my heart to tread the waters of “less than” because the world tells me to be special means we must live a life filled with only majestic sunrises and sunsets. To take the most beautiful snapshots and display them for everyone to “ooh” and “ahh” over seems to be the #goal. And, I am not only speaking of the physical photographs, but I am also talking about our lives and how we live them out before one another. It is our natural desire to be noticed, to be validated by others.

But what about the subtle colors we may quietly illustrate with? The lovely strokes of kindness, meekness, gentleness, self-control, joy, love, peace – all painting the way we react, the way we move. These are the simple, yet glorious, pigments that color our lives into the beauty God longs to see.

I believe we have things a little mixed up. Most definitely, God is grand, and His beauty is most assuredly more wonderful than our human eyes or hearts can comprehend. Nevertheless, we do not have to be living lives of extraordinary proportions for Him to view us as beautiful, for He already sees us that way – from the moment we begin to grow in the womb.

It is when we reach the place in our lives where Jesus is our portion, our Redeemer, that God sees us as Holy, for then when He looks upon us, He sees His Son’s righteousness shed over our humanity. Now, that is spectacular!

Our Creator’s eyes roam all over this earth, seeking to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose lives are painting even the most elementary of portraits for Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9) So, the next time I see the subtlest of sunrises or simplest of sunsets, I pray He reminds me the beauty of the ordinary is glorious to Him. What a gift it is to trust He sees me with perfect vision and knows my heart.

48 Seconds

Philippians 4_8A few years ago I read a book written by Tommy Newberry entitled, 40 Days to a Joy-filled Life. The Lord used Mr. Newberry to challenge me to take inquisitive notice of my thought life and begin filtering it through the Word of God. Newberry aptly asserts, “No area of your life is untouched by your thoughts,” and I would have to agree. I see it in my own life, as well as in the lives of my students. A single thought can change the course of an entire day or switch emotional tracks from one to the other.

For a couple of years now I have had a timer set on my phone to remind me to stop and “think on good things” for at least 48 seconds (Phil. 4:8, get it?) And it always makes me smile and feel a little lighter. But on the wearisome days when I ignore my reminder (yep, unfortunately, I do) before I know it, I am traveling down a back road to falsehood, where anxiety, worry, doubt, fear, and lies reside.

This week was a series of those wearisome days; so, I am thankful God knows me well and handed me the gift of a Kindergartener’s insight. This amazing kid said, “Mrs. Brown, I don’t like painting. I can’t’ do it!” I confidently reminded him he could do all things because Christ would help him. With genuine belief, he said, “I don’t need to listen to the Devil, he’s trying to trick me, right Mrs. Brown?” Without a moment’s hesitation, I agreed, “You are so right J, he is tricky!” Of course, I was convicted immediately.  The simple truth of his innocent wisdom shocked me silly! By ignoring the simple, yet powerful truths of God’s Word, I often allow myself to be outwitted. I suppose this is why I am consistently in need of grace-filled reminders from the Author of my faith.

Thankfully, there is a way to combat the enemy’s assault on our minds – put in to practice what Jesus taught us. When we view this life (and circumstances) from a Biblical worldview, it changes us – it redirects our focus back to the truths of God.

Mr. Newberry and the Apostle Paul found the gold in this veracity – think on whatever is right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy!

Philippians-4-8-Shaun-Menary

Praising God for who He is, what He has done, and all He has yet to accomplish has the power to change the course of our thought life if we would only let it! Maybe we could all challenge ourselves to think about the goodness of God, I am quite certain He will change us – 48 seconds at a time!