• Edwin Michael (Irish Superintendent)

What's your Perspective?

While on holiday this year Margaret and I decided to spend a day on the beach. It's not something we always do, I've never really liked the abrasive mix of sand and sun cream!

On the particular beach we visited there is a strong northerly drift. People regularly enter the water to splash around but soon discover when coming out again they're twenty or thirty meters north of where they went in. Quite a few have learned the hard way, that it's a good idea to check the colour of your brolly and beach towel before lying down again after wandering lazily out of the water! About a mile or so out to sea there is a sizeable island with a few random buildings on it.

It was a spectacular day, hot, but with a strong breeze, blue skies, the perfect holiday setting. As we lay there, both of us noticed a swimmer in the water much further out than people normally go, probably a good two or three hundred meters. The swimmer was swimming strongly and as we spotted him he were just beside an orange buoy in the water. A little bit concerned, we focused in on the swimmer and noticed that after several minutes even with a strong front crawl he appeared to be making no progress against the current and in spite of all the effort was remaining just the same distance from the buoy.

Growing even more concerned I began to wonder if he might be in trouble and was starting to think about getting some help. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed but no one seemed to have spotted him and with that the pressure mounted even more.

After a couple more minutes fixated on the gap between the swimmer and the buoy I was convinced I had to do something. Then suddenly it dawned on me. When I lifted my eyes, widened my gaze and viewed the swimmer against the coastline of the immovable island which lay beyond him he had actually made considerable distance in the desired direction. However he still remained just the same distance from the buoy.

It turned out he was in training, and was actually attached to the buoy which was travelling with him. The buoy, which was not fixed, was absolutely no good to me in checking his progress, I needed the immovable island to really gauge where the swimmer was. For a few moments I had been completely disorientated. It turned out there was no crisis, no need for a life guard, the swimmer was perfectly fine and walked up the beach about 30 minutes later. I had been within seconds of making a total spectacle of myself by raising a false alarm.

It all had to do with my perspective. How I viewed the situation. In life proper perspective is vital. Over the years I have become totally convinced that God's word is the only reliable, immovable marker we can gauge things by. Everything else is in a state of flux. Everything else is moving with us. If I judge my life by the morals and standards of the world, they are constantly shifting and I have no idea where I really am. In fact I may convince myself I'm doing very well if I choose as my guide the low bench mark of the world.

As Christians we must learn to view everything in life through the lens of God's word. Our attitude towards others, e.g. migrants, foreign nationals, or those who have fallen as Christians must always be shaped and determined by God's word. The inspired, infallible, unchanging revelation of truth must shape our perspective on everything. Even on ourselves.

I constantly meet believers who are living with the consequences of having a totally wrong perspective when they look at their lives. They see

themselves only from the perspective of hereditary family traits and DNA, totally ignoring the fact that they are new creatures in Christ; that God himself took up residence within them at the point of salvation with a view to changing them into the image of Christ and lavish on them all the benefits of the Kingdom of God.

I meet others who view themselves from the perspective of weakness and past failures instead of the fact that they are positioned 'in Christ' and as such are justified, forgiven and in fact crucified with Christ and already set free from the power of sin. It's all to do with their perspective.

For the Christian, fear, low self esteem, condemnation, feelings of inadequacy, identity problems, lack of motivation, complacency and a host of other things are the result of faulty perspective.

Make sure you're growing in the habit of viewing yourself and others, in fact everything in life, from the reliable perspective of God's word. All others markers are shifting, and will lead to faulty deductions. Jesus said, "you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" Jh.8:32.

I wish I could have ended the first part of the story by sharing that I was the hero, got the man rescued, he became a Christian and turned out to be a millionaire who is now giving thousands to the work of God.

Truth is, as you already know, he was never even in any danger, it was all in my mind, an imaginary problem brought on by faulty perspective... just like many other things in life! How are the circumstances you find yourself in today affected by a right or wrong perspective?

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