Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beyond The Fence

”But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26 (KJV)

 “Two men looked out from prison bars; one saw mud, the other saw stars.” 

A few years ago, Kevin and I were involved in a situation that was discouraging to both of us.  We were out of state and staying in a motel at the time.  I opened the curtain on our first morning there to check out the view outside.  How disappointed I was to see that the view from our upstairs window was a garbage dumpster in the parking lot below!  I thought, “What a terrible thing to have to look at!”  But, as I stood there grumbling under my breath, my eyes lifted to the wooden fence that surrounded the back of the property.  Upward they rose, until they reached the top of the fence, and then I peered over it.  Beyond the dumpster, past the fence was a peaceful, serene meadow.  There…grazing on the grass under their hooves, tails swooshing lazily in the breeze, were several beautiful horses.  The thought came to me that I could either stare at the ugliness of the trash, or I could lift my eyes and choose to gaze upon the beauty of the horses.  It was my choice. 

God began to deal with me about our situation and the discouragement we were both feeling.  We could focus on all of the bad things we were hearing and discerning in the situation or we could elevate our vision above it.  We could do as David did in Psalm 121:1 (KJV), “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”  Lifting up our eyes made all the difference.  Choosing to focus on God and His power and what He could do gave us the courage we needed and gave us a place to elevate our sights above the confusion and disappointment.

It’s all about perspective and how we choose to view our situations.  It’s all about focus and where we choose to place it.  I heard a story about a woman who looked through the window over her kitchen sink and watched her neighbor’s laundry blowing in the breeze on the clothesline in the yard next door.  As she watched, she criticized, “How awful of her to hang dirty clothes on the line!  Just look at them!  They are dingy and don’t appear to have been washed at all!”  On closer observation, her neighbor’s clothes were perfectly clean.  It was her own window…the one she looked through that was dirty!  After a time, she cleaned it, and could clearly see that her neighbor’s laundry was not the problem.  The problem was on her end entirely.  Her view was distorted by her own dirty window.

We can be so quick to judge, criticize, and condemn another, when all along it is our own perspective that is completely out of focus.  Someone judged me very forcibly and disrespectfully, and the view from which they judged me was so contrary to what the Bible instructs.  It would have taken a lot of explaining to correct the many wrong assumptions they had made and to try to show them the distorted, “dirty window” they were peering through would have been a complete waste of my time and energy.  God showed me to leave it alone, that their perspective was way off, and to just move on.  Only He can point out the “dirty windows” that each one of us are susceptible and likely to look through. 

We can’t correct the perspective of another person.  Just as the woman falsely accused her neighbor of hanging dirty laundry on the line, and nothing could have been further from the truth, we can assume wrong of one another and be completely in the wrong ourselves.  The attitude with which we approach others can be very detrimental and more wrong in the eyes of God than the accusations we make against them that turn out to be completely in error in the first place many times.

If you stand outside a barrel and peer inside it through a hole that is bored in its side, the view will be very dark, uninviting, and limited.  But, if you step into the barrel and peer through the hole from the inside, it is a whole different story.  Some people, who are non-believers, view the Christian life as restrictive and oppressive, even mundane.  That is because they are on the outside looking in.  Once they step inside the barrel of grace, taste of the wonders of salvation, and peer from the inside out, the view is so much different…so much brighter and from a complete opposite perspective.

When my Mom was nine years old, she contracted Rheumatic Fever and Polio at the same time.  She was in very serious condition and was unable to even turn herself in bed.  My Papaw was a man of great faith, and he called for two old-time ministers (Bro. Foster and Bro. Key) to come and pray for her.  When they arrived, they saw the gravity of her condition, but one of them spoke these words to him:  “Bro. McCoy, don’t look at the affliction.  Look at the power of God.”  As they prayed and interceded to God in prayer together for my mother, they prayed the prayer of faith.  The next morning, Papaw said he awoke to hear the sweetest music he had ever heard.  Mom was downstairs rocking in a chair singing!  She was completely and permanently healed of both diseases! 

I have thought of that dear minister’s words many times when I have been faced with hard circumstances.  “Don’t look at the affliction.  Don’t look at the problem.  Look at the power of God.”  Choose to focus on Him and what He can do.  Not on the mountain in front of you.  Not on the sickness.  Not on the pain.  Not on the impossibility.  When our perspective is correctly aligned with the power of Almighty God, nothing is impossible.  Whatever your situation, my friend, there is always a bright and dark side.  There is always a right and wrong way to look at things.  Even the worst scenario can be viewed through the eyes of faith.  God is bigger than any problem, circumstance, or situation we face in this life.  Ask God to clean the window of your perspective.  Look past the mud and see the stars.  Choose to view the horses, not the trash.

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