Are you traveling the right road? Are you headed in the right direction in life? How do you know whether you are or not? It may very well be a matter of your perspective.
My former pastor at Frazer UMC in Montgomery Alabama, Dr. John Ed Mathison once told a story about a trip he took to Atlanta. He was near the top floor of a downtown skyscraper looking out the window at traffic on an Interstate many floors below.
Suddenly he saw a collision at an interchange a few miles ahead. He said he could see cars and trucks approaching the interchange. Those cars could have taken two exits before the traffic started backing up. If they had, they would have avoided the horrendous traffic jam. But they couldn’t see the road ahead. He said, “If I were down there I could flag all those cars onto the right road to avoid the mess.” But the traffic quickly clogged the interchange and the two open exits behind it. The backed-up cars couldn’t see the congestion ahead of them.
They were on the wrong road to avoid the pain and agony in one of Atlanta’s classic Interstate traffic jams. Their perspective, although they couldn’t control it, was short-sighted. Cars could only see a few cars (or trucks) in front of them. John Ed said his perspective allowed him to see miles of interstate in both directions. From his vantage point, you could say, he could see the whole thing.
Bob George, in his book, Classic Christianity, used an analogy to make the same point. He said we look at things from the perspective of time, days, weeks and years. God, however, looks at everything from an eternal perspective. “We watch railroad cars at a (railroad) crossing–one at a time,” George said. “But God sees all of time as a person would see the entire train from an airplane overhead–from the engine to the caboose.¹
When we limit our perspective to time and space, God’s perspective escapes us. Our thinking remains stuck in the present. We’re not suggesting that we not live one day at a time, or that God is not the great I Am. He is with us, lives in us, and is sanctifying us with everything we think, say and do. We’re suggesting that we begin living our daily lives thinking, anticipating, expecting, believing in–heaven.
The Apostle Paul urges us in Colossians 3:2 to, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Because the things of earth are temporal. They won’t last. In my view too many Christians get so wound up in their earthly minutia that they miss the big picture, they don’t have the eternal perspective They’re looking at one train car at a time.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world,” 1 John says, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world –the cravings of sinful man, the lost of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
Philippians 3:20 teaches us, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A good friend of mine has a practical perspective of things, “Two hundred years from now, what difference will it make?” Another quip I have heard before says, “Life has two rules: 1) Don’t sweat the small stuff; and 2) everything is small stuff.
To a degree that pretty well sums up the road we need to be taking. What would happen if, when the next crisis in your life raises its ugly head, you took the high road and examined the crisis from an eternal perspective, from an airplane high above the train?
Would you see things in a different light? I know some tragedies are terrible to endure. For some Christians in a season of grief or chronic sadness the hurt can sometimes be overwhelming. Heaven can be the farthest thing from our minds. But even the tragedies always work for our good, because we love the Lord and we are called according to His purpose (from Romans 8:28).
And we always have Christ, who walks through every step of life with us. He will lead us down the right road every time and give us His heavenly perspective. Remember Isaiah 30:21, Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”
¹Classic Christianity, by Bob George, ©1989, H.arvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, pg. 70-71