“Wow, look at Mt. Rainier this morning, what a magnificent view! Can’t you see it?” From my perspective sitting in a window seat of a 767 flying at about 25,000 feet, it looked like I could almost reach out and touch Washington state’s highest peak. Just after sunrise, the view was spectacular.
“No, I can’t see a thing,” replied the attractive woman sitting next to me, who happened to be my wife, Jodi.
“Well move over a little closer to me, now can you see it?”
“Still can’t see a thing,” Jodi replied. By then we had flown further east and left Mt. Rainier behind.
“Well, you should have seen it—simply amazing!”
“Sure,” Jodi replied, sounding somewhat unconvinced and perhaps a little chagrined that I had interrupted her nap and occupied the window seat. At that hour of the morning, I could understand why she didn’t share my enthusiasm for something she could not see.
Perspective. It all depends upon your point of view. From where you are sitting you see one thing, and you see it clearly, perhaps with a great deal of certainty. But the person sitting right next to you might see a different picture. Maybe something entirely different. Or maybe they see nothing at all.
This can be frustrating, and lead to disagreements. I am convinced that a lot of the conflict we experience in life stems from the tension of differing perspectives. People with diverse points of view may not see eye to eye. That’s why we need to learn to listen and ask questions, so we can sense what others see and maybe understand them a little better. Instead, we are often too quick to try and tell how things look from our point of view, and grow increasingly frustrated if they can’t seem to view things our way or immediately agree with our perspective.
The photo above was taken from an airplane. What’s wrong with the picture? Well, you probably notice that the blue sky is above the clouds, something you could only see from a perspective about six miles above terra firma. From where most of us are usually standing on planet earth, the view below would be cloudy and dark, much different from the view above the clouds.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could always see what is happening above the clouds? It would not only change our perspective, it would probably change our attitude. And really, isn’t that what faith is all about? Standing on the ground on a dark and rainy day, we may project the darkness and dreariness that we see. But above those dripping clouds, the sun is shining. We know that. Yet we see no evidence of it at the moment. Maybe that is why the writer of Hebrews said, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Perspective. That is the difference between faith and unbelief. Between a life attitude ruled by the view from ground zero and a life attitude ruled by believing the sun is shining above the clouds. And you really should have seen that view of Mt. Rainier. Well, I did take a picture, so you can!
And by the way, if you would like a different perspective on what it means to follow Jesus Christ, my new book, Growing Disciples Organically: The Jesus Method of Spiritual Formation is now available in tree or e-form at the following links: