- David Defries
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col. 3:2)
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Prov. 15:22)
There is an age old analogy about 4 blind men who came upon an elephant. None of them had ever experienced what an elephant is like before, so they all put out their hands to touch the elephant and describe to the others what they had learned. The first blind man grabbed the trunk and stated that elephants were wiry, flexible, and strong. The second blind man disagreed. He had grabbed an ear of the elephant and stated that elephants were thin, leathery, and flappy. The third blind man said they were both crazy. He touched the side of the elephant and stated that elephants were smooth, massive, and virtually immovable. The fourth blind man, who had grabbed the tail, thought they were all wrong. He said that elephants were cylindrical and moved freely.
All of the blind men were correct… from their own perspective. However, it is only when we can see things from another's perspective that we get a much better idea of what the overall truth actually is. Life holds truth that is so much larger than what only we can see, we need to be able to see the same situation from multiple views in order to understand better what is actually going on.
I encounter this principle a lot when dealing with my children. This morning I brought them out a new roll of toothpaste as they had finished the old one. On the side of the box were two large pictures, one of teeth being brushed with this brand of toothpaste, the second of a dental tool being used to scrape tartar and plaque off of teeth. My girl (who has a large fear of the dentist) came to me in tears not wanting to use the toothpaste as she was convinced that the pictures meant using this toothpaste would lead to her having to go to the dentist to have something scraped off of her teeth. I had to reassure her that what the package meant was that this toothpaste prevented buildup of plaque and tartar. A little bit of knowledge and a different perspective on how things work ended up preventing an emotional crisis.
Unfortunately, adults do the same sort of thing all of the time. We fill our minds with an idea of how bad something is and completely neglect to see that there might be something larger at play. Several years ago, the hockey team that I cheer for made a deep run into the playoffs and I watched every single game. If my team won, I was ecstatic and my joy abounded all through the next day. If my team lost, it usually sunk me into a depression that would also affect me the entire next day. My perspective was such that, for an entire two month period, my emotions were tied to how my team did in hockey. Looking back, it was a foolish thing to do. I had a work situation, a church that I served in, and a serious relationship at the time. Each of those things is ultimately more important than a sport that I enjoy watching… but each of those areas of my life was affected by my mood and my hockey team because I focused on one perspective and ignored other, more important ones.
This principle comes into play with some really tough subjects as well. One of the most frequent questions that I get from people who don't believe in God (or at least don't believe that He is good) is how God could let a certain evil thing happen. Usually it's personal… why did my child have to die? Why did my friend get sick? Why did God allow this tragedy to happen? I'm not saying that I have the answer to those questions. I empathize with people who are in pain and struggle with tough situations. However, I also believe in the Scripture which says "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Is. 55:8-9) God has such a larger and better perspective on why things happen than we do. He has plans in place and is working them out. That can be cold comfort when we're face to face with tragedy, but it doesn't make it any less true.
This is why it's so wrong to only look at the bad things that are happening in your life. You end up missing out on a perspective that sees what good is happening in your life as well. When all you can see is the one relationship that blowing up, you miss all of the other relationships that support and lift you up. The perspective you choose to see with ends up being the one that you filter all of life through, therefore you need to be careful what kind of filter that is.
Are you looking at your life from the right perspective? Are you only seeing the bad? Are you letting one thing dominate your perspective to the exclusion of everything else? Maybe it's time to start elevating what you're looking at and, if you struggle with that, getting someone's else's take on what truth is. As always, if you ever need help, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org