Monday, March 7, 2016

Human Perspective vs. God's perspective.

I'm in the process of reading through the New Testament again.  I got the Beautiful Word Journal Bible recently and I LOVE it.   I think I can say this has been the most me Bible that I have ever had because it is full of color, journal art and sidebars for me to write my thoughts as I go.  It's pretty and fun:)

When I was a kid I remember vividly that the last thing on Earth I wanted to voluntarily read was the Bible.  It was SO boring to me.  I really enjoyed reading through the Comic Bible and the Kids Study Bible but, I didn't carve out time to sit and study on a regular basis.  I couldn't have imagined then that the Bible would be my favorite book today or that I would look forward to every study session.

One of my favorite things about reading the Bible with the intention of learning something new is just that...there is always something new to be found.  The words in the Bible never get old.  Each time I read, I find that I learn something that I never knew before.

Sometimes I will read a chapter and then just sit back, blown away by the depth that I have missed so many times before.  I will wonder how I never understood what that passage really meant until now and I will recall the Bible verses, "he who has eyes let him see and he who has ears let him hear." I don't think our eyes are always open to see everything all at once.  Learning about who God is and what His words mean is a process of understanding and growing that continues for a lifetime.

This time as I read my Bible, I am taking my time and trying to really think on every verse with more intention than I did the last time I read through.  The last time I did a Bible read through I was more concerned with quickly reading through to accomplish my goal than I was concerned about actually learning a whole lot...probably not the brightest goal I have had but, I was young lass.

While reading today, I found myself really mulling around a short passage in Matthew chapter 16.  Jesus is beginning to prepare his disciple dude friends for his imminent Crucifixion.  He tells them that he is about to suffer many things at the hands of the leaders, priests and teachers of the law. (v. 21).  He tells them that these people are going to kill him but, on the third day he will be raised back to life.  

Can you imagine your bestie telling you that someone is about to kidnap/capture/arrest them and then brutally torture and murder them?  

Yah, I can't either. 

But, that is exactly what Jesus just dropped on his bros.  

A bomb shell.  

I think many of us would respond the same way as Peter does...

"Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!" (v. 22) 

We would all say that to a loved one right?  In our own words of course.

I would probably say something more like, "Heck no!  I'm not going to stand by and let anyone hurt you.  They will have to come through me first.  This is insanity!!"

 I would do anything in my power to protect a friend or family member who was being threatened by someone else.  Or to look at this from another angle, I would do anything in my power to prevent anyone I love from ever having to feel pain of any kind.  If I could prevent someone from suffering somehow, I would do it.  Wouldn't you?  The last thing we ever want is to see anyone struggle. That is what we humans do for each other.  We generally don't stand aside as our friends are being abused or mistreated.  We stand up for them.  We fight for them.  We defend and protect them.  

But, Jesus doesn't want Peter's protection or his involvement and not only that, Jesus has some strong words for him.  

"Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."  (v.23)

Um.  Mega Ouch.  

My feelings would be hurt.  He just called me Satan?!  :( Sad face.

But, here's the thing, Jesus sees everything and Jesus knows everything.  He sees the past, present and the future.

We see the past and we see a portion of the present (with our limited understanding and wisdom) but, we certainly can't forsee the future, despite our best efforts to.

Jesus sees through the lens of eternity whereas, we often see only through the lens of our present troubles, struggles or circumstances.

Jesus knew that He would have to suffer many horrible things in order to fulfill something so much greater and bigger than His present suffering.

In this situation, the greater thing was the salvation of the entire world.

So yah, that was a big deal.

A deal that we could not see or understand with our human eyes and logic.

Peter could only see and feel the present moment.   He may have been feeling anger.  He may have been feeling fear.  Ultimately, he didn't want his friend to have to suffer or die.

 He couldn't recognize that the pain and suffering that Jesus was going to endure might be something that he would have to allow his friend to endure in order to bring about something GREAT for eternity.

How often are we like more like Peter and less like Jesus when it comes to how we respond and deal with the  pain, suffering, trial and struggle in our lives and in the lives of those around us?

Like allllllll the time right.

Yes.  Me too.

When I found out that the pain my sister had been having in her knee for some time was a tumor I instantly felt anxious.  My entire family began praying and believing for the tumor to be benign or praying for God to remove the tumor completely.  We believed for healing for my sister.  We were filled with hope because prayer is encouraging and believing for healing and waiting for it with anticipation is exciting.

My mom called me a few days later to tell me that the results had come back and my sister's tumor was not benign and in fact was a very aggressive form of bone cancer, called osteosarcoma.

There was a lot of shock initially because the news of cancer is such a bombshell.

I know far too many people whose lives have been cut short because of cancer.

The shock begins to fade as the reality of the diagnosis sets in and then anger crept in.

We prayed for a healing.  We believed for a miracle.  I know God is able!!  Why are you allowing this to go on God?  Why would you do this to my baby sister?  I'm mad at you God...please don't strike me dead for being so honest, but, I am mad at you.  This isn't fair.

I absolutely felt like Peter.  No. No. No.  This is not happening.  I will not allow it.

And you know what, the truth is that I can't explain exactly why God allows so many people to suffer and die "before their time."

I  do however; believe that scripture is very clear that God is not the one who afflicts. He hasn't given my sister cancer but, he hasn't healed her yet either.

I also believe that scripture makes it EXTREMELY clear that pain and suffering is most definitely a part of life here on this Earth and no one can escape it.  I also believe that scripture makes it clear that we grow and learn so much as a result of our hardships here on this Earth.  Make no mistake, we can grow poorly or grow beautifully.  I suppose that outcome is up to us.  I believe that scripture makes it clear that the suffering itself is not good but, what can come out of it can be.  My sister having cancer is not good.  My sister suffering is not good.  But, God is good and he can bring something good out of this horrible thing.  He DOES bring good out of horrible things.  That is who God is.

I also know that I am not God.  As much as I try to have an eternal mindset and understand the things of God, I am certain that I only see a microscopic piece of the big picture.  I don't know what good things God is planting, growing and moving at this very moment.  I don't know whose lives are being impacted by my sister's strength and bravery as she fights this awful disease.

So instead of beating my chest for healing for my sister every minute of every day, I am believing that God will heal her in His timing.  I can rest in that truth.

I don't know what He is doing but, I trust Him.

Instead, I am focusing my energy on trusting God in this season and trusting that I cannot see it all.  I am trusting that he loves my sister dearly and that he is holding her, ministering to her weary spirit and growing her beautifully even in this not good thing we call cancer.  God is good.

My Mom and I love talking about our Bible readings together.  We love talking about faith together.  She is my favorite counselor and mentor.  One thing she has said to me on many occasions is, "that's great Case and I understand what you are saying but, where is that in the Bible."  In other words, I understand that you are frustrated about what you are going through and you have every right to be but, can you back up that attitude with scripture.  Can you back up that belief with scripture?  Can you back up that choice with scripture?

Sometimes we are so sure that we have the things of God on our minds.  We can totally convince ourselves that God would agree with us and support our thoughts, choices, actions etc. but, more often than not we are acting like Peter.  We think we know what's best but, we really don't have a clue about what's going on in the big picture.

 God doesn't see life the way we do.  He has a different perspective and as Christians that is the perspective that we are supposed to desire.  An eternal perspective. The bigger picture type of perspective.  This world is not our home type of perspective.  Denying yourself and taking up your cross every day type of perspective.

There will be so many times in our lives when we will have to face something really, really tough and we will always have a choice to walk through those seasons; with a big picture perspective or with near-sighted vision.

The truth is that the big picture perspective often requires more of us.  It's a narrow path with a really tiny gate and it's easy to miss it.  It's so much easier and even more natural to our flesh to opt for that wide path with the giant gate right next door but, it leads to destruction as scripture says.  The big picture, eternal perspective often requires us to endure and press on.  It often requires us to say no to the fire escape and walk through the fire.



Because, put simply, the things of God are not like the things of this world and in all honesty we will never fully understand the ways of God while on this Earth.  We do know by reading scripture that the things of God are SO SO much bigger than we can ever fully grasp here on this Earth.

I know that can sound so cheap to someone who is going through something horrible right now.

I know this can also sound like crazy talk to someone who doesn't have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I understand.

It's really not something you can understand until you walk it and even then it is a never ending journey of faith but, can I just say that once you put on these eternal glasses, life will look a lot different.

So the next time you find yourself at a crossroads, in the middle of a storm or confused about what to do regarding your circumstances, take the time to really pray about your situation and wait on God for answers.  You know what?  You might have to wait a while so ask God for patience while you are at it.

I have been given some of the most life changing answers because of the storms I have endured in my life and others I am still waiting on but, I know someday it will all become crystal clear.

Take the time to search out scripture for answers and guidance.  This will always strengthen your vision and through that time of study God will give you direction.

Press on mighty warrior.  Press on.