Tag Archives: perspective

Isaiah 40:9-20

Scripture: from verse 12

[God] has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand…

Observation:  There’s a vlogbrothers video that points out that humans are really terrible at wrapping our heads around things that are far bigger or far smaller than we are.  If you ask me how much space five marbles will take up, I have an immediate intuitive sense of that, quite aside from whatever experience I may have in holding marbles.  Five marbles will fit in the palm of my hand.  If you ask me how much space a million marbles will take up, I have no idea.  I know they will not fit in the palm of my hand.  But whether they will fit in a bucket, in my car, in my house…I’m just not sure.

And then there’s God.  I can make some rough calculations and estimate how much space the marbles will take up, after all, even if I can’t picture it.  (Apparently I’m going to need around 250 5-gallon buckets to store them.  I think they would, technically, fit in the house, but I doubt my husband would be pleased.)  And God is even bigger than that.

God is so big that we can’t even comprehend the metaphors used to describe how big He is.  The hollow of a hand is easy enough to understand, but using one to measure all the water of Earth is impossible.  If the entire mass of water on Earth was pooled together, it would apparently make a giant ball the size of Spain.  I cannot imagine a giant ball the size of Spain, even with a picture to help me.  And this image of God is a couple orders of magnitude beyond that, and God Himself is even bigger than this image.  The mind boggles.

But God likes our minds boggling.  He likes that we try to understand Him, and He steps into our world to make Himself known.  He notices us and loves us, which realistically is kind of like us taking an eager interest in the life and concerns of an amoeba.

The physics alone boggles the mind.

Application: Still boggling, sorry.

Prayer:  God, you are pretty amazing.  By which I mean considerably more awesomely amazing than I can even begin to describe.  Thank you for giving us pictures of you, so that we can begin to understand who you are.  Amen.

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Isaiah 2:1-11

Scripture: from verse 2

…the mountain of Adonai’s house
will be established as the most important mountain.

Observation:  This is speaking of the days to come, when God’s glory will be clear to everyone, and everyone will go to Him.  Mountains and hills were generally places of worship in biblical times, so the prophet may be referring to the community or structure of the worship of the Lord rather than a literal mountain, but that isn’t terribly important.

I mostly loved the imagery here, to be honest.  I love mountains – the strength of them and the coolness and the quiet and the wind and the clear view and the feeling that you’re actually accomplishing something as you hike up.  And I like translating that to worship: the feeling of God’s huge implacable strength, the inner quiet that finally allows me to really listen, the currents of God’s Spirit and the clear perspective and the mixed work and joy of knowing God.  It’s just peaceful.  I love it.

Application:  Um.  Yeah, no idea here.  Learn to worship, I guess.

Prayer:  Father, I love you.  I love coming to your mountain.  Help me climb to you.  Amen.

Colossians 4:11-18

Scripture: from verse 17

See that you complete the task you were given in the Lord.

Observation:  This is a reminder that Paul addresses to a specific person, but it applies to all of us.  We are set a task.  We have to complete it.

It’s easy to leave spiritual work half-done.  If our work is to pray or to love or something like that, we may not see concrete results from our work.  There may not be a physical sign that we are finished.  So we tend to assume that we have finished as soon as we’ve done anything, when God may be calling us to keep going.

All we can do is wait for God’s peace to release us.  If we are to pray, we keep praying.  If we are to love, we keep loving.  If we are to write or dance or eat or talk, we keep going until we are finished.  We are accomplishing a great deal in the spiritual world as we do His will, and He can see it even when we cannot.

Application:  Have patience and keep going.  Wait for God to tell you what to do.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for giving me tasks to complete for you.  Help me to be patient and persevering and accomplish what you want me to accomplish.  Amen.

Colossians 3:1-5

Scripture: verse 2

Focus your minds on the things above, not on things here on earth.

Observation:  “Above” is where Messiah is, according to the verse before.  We are to focus on God and God’s plan, not the things we see around us.

In Next Level Living, the author comments that when things are confusing in the physical realm, it means that something is happening in the spiritual realm.  We are sitting on top of a floating iceberg, quite certain that our little island of ice is the whole story, unaware of the giant mass of ice below the water.  But it’s only by studying the giant mass that we can understand the little island.

I made a playlist of cheerful music recently for someone who is having a rough time with life at the moment.  I included Creed by Third Day, which isn’t really cheerful.  The lyrics are the singer’s creed: a simple list of the things he believes.  But the more we think about God, the more we see from His perspective, and the more we can understand about the spiritual forces that underlie the events we see.

The song ends “This is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man.”  The other advantage of focusing on God is that He is outside us, that He is objective and eternal and unchanging.  He is our firm foundation, our secure footing.  Without Him we have to rely on our own judgement and emotions and thoughts, and that’s a scary thought.

Application:  Focus on God-things, not human-things.  Look for the underlying spiritual happenings.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for seeing what I can’t.  Thank you for guiding me through events far too complicated for me to understand and predict.  Help me to value your perspective above my own.  Amen.

Leviticus 26:23-46

Scripture: from verse 36

The sound of a driven leaf will frighten [you], so that [you] will flee as one flees from the sword and fall when no one is pursuing.

Observation:  This is one of the penalties for not following God’s will: the land will be overrun and most of the people will be captured and taken away, and the remainder will live in fear.  If God’s people followed His will, this would be true of their enemies instead.

I used to struggle with social anxiety.  Actually I still do, but it’s much, much less than it used to be.  And as a result there was almost always a couple of people who I was quite convinced hated me.  I don’t know where the idea came from, but I would misinterpret every glance and comment as disdainful and critical.  And it would make me feel sick and sad and tired, and I never knew what to do about it.

And that’s what life is without God.  Without His perspective, we see things wrong.  A blowing leaf looks bigger than it is, and the beginnings of a real storm look insignificant.

Application:  Look for God’s perspective before you react.  Don’t get caught up in your own perceptions.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for being the Truth that is at the core of creation.  Thank you for holding all things together.  Help me to see things the way you do.  Amen.

Leviticus 22:17-33

Scripture: verse 27

When a bull, sheep or goat is born, it is to stay with its mother for seven days; but from the eighth day on, it may be accepted for an offering made by fire to Adonai.

Observation:  The passage is about acceptable sacrifices: animals offered had to be without defects or deformities, etc.  I’m not sure why a newborn animal had to stay with its mother for seven days, but I’m guessing it was for the good of the flock.  It seems quite possible that losing a baby too early caused distress in the mother.

I could be wrong, of course, but there’s a number of places where God gave instructions that make more sense now than they did then.  Washing your hands under running water after touching a sick person would prevent the spread of disease and reduce the risk of infection.  The commandment that slaughtered meat be eaten within two days makes plenty of sense when you consider that they were in a hot climate with no refrigeration and limited resources for preserving it. (They had access to salt, admittedly, but it was expensive and probably not widely used.)

And I like that we can trust God to know what He’s doing.  That even the most arbitrary rules will probably make sense when we have access to His knowledge of how things work.   He knows the plans He has for us – and they are plans for good (Jer 29:11). He knows enough to help us stay safe.

Application:  What you see is not all there is.  Trust Him to know more than you do.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you for knowing everything there is to know.  I praise you for understanding the mysteries of the universe, and for sharing your knowledge with us.  Help me to trust you to keep me safe.  Amen.

Leviticus 18:1-16

Scripture: from verse 3

You are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Egypt, where you used to live; and you are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Caanan, where I am bringing you…I am Adonai your God.

Observation:  The chapter is about sexual practices, mostly forbidding incest.

Humans do what other humans do.  We’re designed to do it, actually – it’s one of the things that makes civilization possible.  If all our friends jump off a bridge, we usually do so as well, which is not a bad thing if the bridge is on fire or the water is nice for swimming.  Our actions, our thought patterns, our moods and even our eating habits are influenced by those around us.

As I said, this isn’t actually a bad thing.  It allows us to make use of others’ experiences and pool our knowledge so we avoid certain kinds of mistakes.  The internet has allowed this sort of herd instinct and collaboration to happen even faster and wider, and that sort of crowdsourcing has produced some remarkable things.  (Admittedly it has also produced some real duds as well, but such is life.)

But God is other.  God is different.  God doesn’t do what other people do.  And He doesn’t want His people to do what other people do – at least not unthinkingly.

God designed us to collaborate and work together.  But humans are broken.  We’re flawed.  And the flaws come out in our collaborations, just as everything else does.  If we want to be holy, we need to watch not just our own actions, but also the trending actions of those around us.  Because if we aren’t aware of what others are doing, we’ll do the same things without even thinking about it.

This isn’t easy to notice, either.  If our culture is filled with an activity or an attitude, we tend to forget that it’s part of our culture.  We think all humans take vacations, or want to be thin, or gossip about others.  And that isn’t necessarily true.  We need to ask God for His perspective, so we can see where we are making false assumptions.

Application:  Keep an eye on yourself.  Be willing to be different.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, thank you for enabling me to follow God’s word.  Help me to be holy, and to see where I need to be different in order to be holy.  Help me see the activities of my culture as just part of my culture and not an integral part of being human.  Help me to have the perspective to see things the way you do.  Amen.