A Wider Perspective

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1940-1945 and 1951-1955
I came across the above quote by Winston Churchill in an email I received, and it goes along with a blog post I published yesterday on my regular blog titled, The Persistence of Memory.” The way we view things in life or view life in general, whether past, present, or while anticipating the future, is so very important regardless of one’s circumstances.

In an article published on December 23, 2013, titled, A Wider Perspective,” by Eric Zimmer on The One You Feed,” he writes:

A lot of the art of life is about perspective. The ability to change our perspective based on the situation at hand is a key part of creating a life worth living. There is the old saying that we can handle the big things, it’s the daily irritations that kill us. And daily irritations are very often a matter of perspective.

I find that most of my distress day to day comes from too narrow a perspective. I have narrowed down my field of view to only this ONE thing. I have become extremely myopic and can’t see anything beyond this problem or desire.

Taking a wider perspective almost always helps.

There are three main filters I use  to widen my perspective:

  • Time
  • Personal Importance
  • Distance

Time: The Time filter is pretty straightforward. I can choose at any time to view the situation from a wider time perspective. Will this matter in 5 days, 5 months or 5 years?  This helps very quickly to get back to a workable perspective. Since I know that everything is impermanent and all things shall pass, the act of taking a wider time perspective helps relieve that anxiety. Is this issue going to matter next week or next month?

Personal Importance: In this situation I need to consider the stress in the bigger scheme of my life as a whole. Oliver Burkeman is his excellent book, “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Hate Positive Thinking,” advises that we ask our selves “What is the worst thing that can happen?” If we answer that question honestly, in a lot of cases it will give us the perspective we need. For example, if I am stuck in traffic and getting angry asking myself that question leads to the fact that I will be 10 minutes late getting somewhere or have 10 less minutes to do something else but beyond that nothing bad is happening.

Distance: Distance is harder to describe but no less important. It is about seeing more than I am seeing in my myopic moments. In this case I need to take the situation and consider it in light of the world as a whole. This is the classic “There are lots of people who have it worse than you”. While this does not always help, and pain is relative to a great degree it is important for me to at least run the situation through this filter. By and large I have a life that is free of major challenges and issues and most of my “problems” pale in comparison to real problems that many face.

When I remember to take the situations I’m facing and run them through these three filters more often than not I can get them in better perspective and make better decisions. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on April 10, 2017 titled, Five Powerful Verses for When You Need a New Perspective,” by Leslie Newman, on Journey to Imperfect,” she writes:

Perspective is all about seeing something from a larger frame of reference. The thing is, having the right perspective is awfully hard sometimes because we see things from such a small vantage point. It’s hard to step outside of our ordinary ways of thinking to see God’s bigger picture. Even when we are looking for that bigger picture, many times God, in His infinite wisdom, chooses not to reveal it to us.

This can result in frustration and bad attitudes as we deal with our own lack of understanding. We will often have the wrong perspective because we are looking at things through our own eyes instead of having the faith to look up and see the One who is holding the framework of a bigger picture.

For those times when you struggle to understand, when you don’t know which direction to go, or what to pray, here are some verses that will make a big difference:

“But we have the mind of Christ.”I Corinthians 2:16

This is a little hard to grasp, isn’t it? But you can count on God’s word as truth. We can think like Jesus and we can have His attitudes. This is God’s promise, right here in black and white stated as simply and as clearly as can be stated. We have the mind of Christ. Remember this because it is the truth.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 2:5

Not only does He promise we can have the mind of Christ. He gives it to us as a command to follow. We have the promise, now we have to do the work.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”Romans 12:2

In this verse, we are told that we should not be thinking like the world thinks, but instead, we should be transformed by renewing our minds. If we will do this, we have a promise that we will be able to understand the will of God. If you would like to study this verse in more depth, you will find some valuable insights from a word study in this post.

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”Colossians 3:1-3

Can you imagine the love that God has for you that He would take your very life, protect and shield it, and hide it safe with Jesus? We can count on the fact that what we have in Jesus goes far beyond our daily lives here and takes us straight to the heart of God. This is such a treasure to hold on to. We can set our mind on things above because Jesus is our very life.

“For from His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”John 1:16

From grace to grace, all we have to do is receive it. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on January 18, 2016, titled, Change Your Perspective–Change Your Life,” by Claire (no last name mentioned) on One Passion One Devotion,” she writes:

Our perspective—the way we interpret what’s happening around us—can make or break us in any given situation. Our perspectives shape us, how we think, how we engage with people, how we action in our every day. Perspective creates opportunity to grow and opportunity to step out, or how it can hinder our progress and restrict us.

Clues to what type of perspective we have is in some of the phrases we regularly say or think. If your perspective leans to the negative you may not even be aware of it. Thinking the worst can be second nature after years of doing it. But it can be influencing how you live life and keeping you from getting the best out of it.

A negative perspective says:

I can’t
I will never
I could never
That always happens to me
That never happens for me
That’s not possible
It’s language is negative and limiting
It’s reactive vs proactive, seeing the bad in people and in situations.

A optimistic perspective says:

I can
I will
I will try
It’s going to be okay
Let’s keep going
It’s language is positive and overcoming.
It is responsive and proactive, choosing to see the good in people and situations.

A faith filled perspective says:

I can do all things through Christ
I am more than a conqueror
With God nothing is impossible

Positive perception says that failure is part of learning, that we can do hard stuff. We need to turn down our negative self talk and make intentional decisions to transform our perspective, from the inside out.

God is calling us to have an enlarged perspective of His faithfulness and power as we step into a new year, to be aware of His ableness vs. our own limitations and vs. what the world may say.

God sometimes has a totally different perspective than us. His challenge for us is for us to align our perspective with His, to see things from His vantage point.

We can begin again and change the way we think. Changing the way we think sets us on a new road that trusts more, dares more, loves more and lives more. (Quote source and the rest of the article is available at this link.)

I’ll end this post with the words from Paul in Philippians 4:13 who gives us the final word in this post on the proper perspective . . .

I can do all things . . .

Through Christ . . .

Who strengthens me . . . .

YouTube Video: “Beyond Me” by TobyMac:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

The Waiting Game

“Be still in the presence of the Lordand wait patiently for him to act” (Psalm 37:7) —King David, second king of ancient Israel, wrote Psalm 37 when he was an old man 
Waiting is a journey that nobody likes, especially if what one is waiting for drags on for, well, decades. There is actually a definition for “waiting game” in Merriam-Webster that states: “a strategy in which one or more participants withhold action temporarily in the hope of having a favorable opportunity for more effective action later” (quote source here).

Yesterday I published a blog post on my other blog titled, Backstage: God Behind the Scenes.” Much of our waiting has to do with what God is doing “behinds the scenes” in our lives. It also has to do with what He is doing in us. However, being human, we usually have a very low tolerance for waiting for much of anything in our easy access, available 24/7 culture. In fact, we find it hard to wait for the microwave to heat our food in three minutes or less.

In an article published on September 30, 2013 in Relevant Magazine titled, 5 Reasons God Makes Us Wait,” by Eric Speir, pastor, college professor, and practical theologian, he writes:

Perhaps you know the feeling of waiting for your phone to charge?

You’ve run out of batteries, you’ve plugged the phone in and now there’s nothing to do but sit and wait? And even if it really only takes a matter of minutes (and even though it’s nothing more than a phone), you start to feel tense and anxious, wondering how long this could possibly take.

Most people don’t like to wait. We often get frustrated waiting on fast food or waiting behind the slow car in the fast lane. We are always in a rush to get to the next place or the next thing.

This mindset often carries over into our spiritual lives with us rushing to the next big thing.

But while most of us are in a hurry, it seems God is usually not in a hurry. The Scriptures say He is slow at going about things. It seems He always has a plan and a purpose for everything.

The problem with waiting is not having all the details. From our perspective, we have everything figured out and we want God to move within our time frame.

But God rarely does things according to our time frame, and because of this we can easily get discouraged. If we aren’t careful, we’ll think He’s uncaring or mad at us.

In the Gospels we see this happening to Mary and Martha while they are waiting on Jesus to come and heal their brother, Lazarus. When Jesus finally shows up, He is accused of taking too long.

God always has good reasons for making us wait. Waiting is a part of life and one of God’s tools for developing people. The Bible is full of stories of people having to wait on God, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, Jesus, Paul and countless others.

In studying the lives of these great people, I’ve discovered 5 reasons God makes us wait:

1. Waiting reveals our true motives

Waiting has a way of bringing out the best and worst in people. People who don’t have good motives won’t wait long because they’re not interested in the commitment it takes to see something through. They’re too interested in short-term gains or success.

Most of us have good intentions, but a lot of what we want to accomplish is an attempt to make a name for ourselves or for our own egos. It hurts to say this, but it’s often true.

2. Waiting builds patience in our lives

Patience in waiting for small things leads to having patience in the bigger things. If we can’t wait for God to do a small thing, we certainly can’t wait for something bigger.

Our problem is our perspective is usually wrong. We tend to think the bigger things in life are finances and possessions, while God thinks influencing and changing people is more important.

3. Waiting builds anticipation

Why do children get so excited around Christmas? Because the wait has produced anticipation. We tend to appreciate things the longer we have to wait for them.

A few years ago, my family and I were going through a difficult season. We had to live with my mother-in-law for a few years. During this time the Lord assured me that one day we would own a home of our own. It took a few years to see this happen, but when the day finally came, we could hardly contain ourselves.

Because of having to wait so long, we tend to cherish and take care of it more than others might. People tend to treasure the things they have to wait for.

4. Waiting transforms our character

Waiting has a way of rubbing off the rough edges of our lives. Most of us know the story of Moses delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians. It’s a grand story of God doing great miracles.

But few sermons talk about Moses having to wait in the desert 40 years before God came to him. God used this time of waiting to transform his character. We know this because when he was a young man he was brash and impatient. In his impetuousness he killed a man and hid the body. When his sin was made public, he ran for his life and was exiled to the desert. When he was given a second chance he opted to do it God’s way and in God’s time. In the end, the Israelites were delivered from slavery and Moses became a great leader. Waiting transformed the life of Moses and it does the same for you and I.

5. Waiting builds intimacy and dependency upon God

The reason we are able to read about the great men and women of the Bible is because they all had one thing in common. They were all people who learned their success in life was directly proportionate to their intimacy and dependency upon God. For them, a relationship with God wasn’t a get rich quick scheme. For many of them it was a matter of life and death.

Waiting during the difficult times developed their relationship with God. Some of the most intimate relationships we have in our lives are because a friend stood in the trenches with us during the heat of the battle. Maybe this is what the scripture means when it says we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

The reason we get to read the stories of these great men and women is because they went through the difficulties of life with God. In the end, they enjoyed the process with God and the promise of God.

I’ve always believed God is just as interested in the journey as he is the destination. If not, all the biblical accounts would only include the feel good parts and not the good, the bad and the ugly of the times of waiting. We may not always understand why we have to wait, but the good news is that God never asks us to wait without Him. (Quote source here.)

There is no set time frame for waiting. It can take days or weeks or months or years, even decades. And acquiring patience goes hand-in-hand with waiting. In an article published on December 8, 2014 in Patheos.com titled, 3 Bible Stories on Patience,” by Dr. Michael L. Williams, Senior Pastor of Selah Mountain Ministries, author, Christian educator and Biblical counselor, he writes:

Humanity is constantly on the move. We want fast food, fast service, and fast resolutions to high profile controversial court cases. When we do not get what we want, we get impatient and want somebody to pay for not doing something when we want it to be done. As we struggle with our own impatience, there is much we can learn by looking at three Bible stories about patience.

What is the common definition of the word patience?

The common definition of patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset” (quote source here). It is interesting that the word has the same root as the word “patient” that means suffering. For those of us that are impatient, it is clear that we often think that we are suffering when we have to be patient. The following three stories demonstrate what patience is all about.

Abraham and Sarah

God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:1-6). This was despite the fact that Abraham and his wife Sarah were unable to have children when they were younger and were too old to have children at the time of this promise. However, we do know that Abraham believed God and God accounted it to him as righteousness despite this fact (Genesis 15:5-6).

Despite God reinforcing the promise over several years, when the promise was not fulfilled right away, Sarah suggested that Abraham take Sarah’s handmaid Hagar to have a child (Genesis 16). Abraham took her advice and the resulting child was Ishmael. It was not until many years after the original promise when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 99 years old that the promise was fulfilled by the birth of Isaac through Sarah (Genesis 17:15; Genesis 21:1-8).

Because Isaac was the child of promise, not Ismael, it caused strife in the household because the inheritance of Abraham went to Isaac. The fallout from this decision continues to this day through descendants of Ishmael (Arabs) and the descendants of Isaac (Jews) as they continue to fight over who should own land in the area of Palestine.

Cornelius (Acts 10)

Cornelius was a Gentile who believed in God and lived a life that reflected a deep faith in God, but did not personally know God (Acts 10). Because of his faith, God sent an angel to speak to him and tell him to send men to Joppa to get Peter and to bring him back to Cornelius’ house. Cornelius believed what God had said through the angel and sent the men.

In the meantime, Peter was on the roof of his house praying and God gave him a vision of different types of animals, both clean and unclean according to the law. God told Peter to take and eat, but Peter responded by saying that he would never eat and unclean thing. God responded by telling Peter not to call something unclean that He, God, calls clean.

About that time, the men from Cornelius’ house showed up and Peter went down to meet them. The men, along with Peter and some of Peter’s men, left to go to Cornelius’ house. When Peter and the men arrived, the house was full of people waiting to see Peter. After some initial introductions and clarification of who Peter was, Peter preached the gospel of salvation and everyone in the house believed it and was saved by God. Of particular note was that immediately after they believed, they spoke in tongues (probably Hebrew, but we do not know), which proved to Peter’s men and later the other Apostles that the God had given the gospel to the Gentiles.

Job

Job was probably known the most as a person of patience in the Bible. In fact, the saying “the patience of Job” is commonly referred to in some circles when talking about someone with patience. A brief summary of the book of Job shows us that God considered Job to be a man who was perfect and upright in all his ways (Job 1:1, 8; Job 2:3).

Satan discussed this with God and tried to explain Job’s faith as a byproduct of God’s protection. However, God allowed Satan to test Job by attacking Job’s livelihood, his family, and his physical body. Satan’s attack was so vicious that even Job’s wife told him that he should curse God and die. Despite this, Job rebuked his own wife, and refused to curse God (Job 2:9-10).

Throughout the book of Job, we find that Job search for answers as to why this had happened to him. His friends tried to advise him but, their advice was somewhat contradictory and accusing of Job of deserving what had happened. It was not until Job examined himself and cried out to God that God answered Him and set Job straight. Job believed what God said, and God blessed Job abundantly above and beyond what he had done in the past.

What can we learn from these stories?

The common thread in each of these stories is that each of these persons believed what God said. However, we also see three levels of patience. In the account of Abraham, he and Sarah had patience to a point, but because of their impatience over how long it was taking, they decided to take matters into their own hands to produce a child. The result of their impatience is directly responsible for conflict today between the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac. This teaches us that not having patience can sometimes have long lasting effects that affect many generations (Isaiah 30:15-18).

In the account of Cornelius, we see a man who had patience enough to follow what God said to do even though there was no mention as to why he was to send men to get Peter. Without knowing even if Peter would come, he called his family and friends to his house to wait for Peter. The result of this was that everyone who had patience with Cornelius to wait and see what would happen were saved. This teaches us that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we not only must have patience with God, but also have patience with each other (Romans 12:10-21).

In the account of Job, we see a man who had patience to continue to trust that God would give him an answer to his trials. Job had the patience to listen to the advice of his wife, his friends, and even his own self-examination, yet decided to wait upon the Lord for His answer. His own wife and friends tried to offer an answer for why God allows him to go through a trial, but Job waited for God’s answer. This teaches us that when we go through times of testing we often do not see why God allowed it to happen until many years later when we can look back and understand exactly why God allowed it in the light of God’s calling for today (Ecclesiastes 7:7-10).

Conclusion

Patience really does entail suffering on some level. However, when we continue to seek God’s intervention in the matter instead of our own, He blesses us and shows us at some point how He uses it to our good and to His glory (Romans 5:3-5; Galatians 6:9). (Quote source here.)

So whatever it is you may be waiting for, whether you’ve been waiting for days or decades, continue to believe in God, and wait for His perfect timing. I’ll end this post with Habakkuk 2:3For the vision is yet for an appointed time…. Though it tarries… 

Wait for it . . .

For it will surely come . . .

It will not delay . . . .

YouTube Video: “Worth the Wait” by 33 Miles:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Journey to Truth (Relatively Speaking)

“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”Pope Benedict XVI, who was pope from 2005-2013 (quote source here).
Relativism is the idea that views are relative to differences in perception and consideration. There is no universal, objective truth according to relativism; rather each point of view has its own truth. The major categories of relativism vary in their degree of scope and controversy.    Moral relativism encompasses the differences in moral judgments among people and cultures; Truth relativism is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture (cultural relativism). Descriptive relativism seeks to describe the differences among cultures and people without evaluation, while normative relativism evaluates the morality or truthfulness of views within a given framework.” (Quote source here.)

“Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard. Truth is also sometimes defined in modern contexts as an idea of “truth to self”, or authenticity. Truth is usually held to be opposite to falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also suggest a logical, factual, or ethical meaning. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts, including philosophy, art, theology, and science. Most human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most of the sciences, law, journalism, and everyday life. Some philosophers view the concept of truth as basic, and unable to be explained in any terms that are more easily understood than the concept of truth itself. To some, truth is viewed as the correspondence of language or thought to an independent reality, in what is sometimes called the correspondence theory of truth.” (Quote source here.)

In a blog post published in June 2012 titled, What are Relativism and Postmodernism?” by Michael Moyles, a career military officer who blogs at The Clear-Thinking Christian, he states:

…Nearly all postmodernists deny the existence of absolute truth. All truth, then, is subjective—it is “in the eye of the beholder”. There is no such thing as an actual right and wrong, things being intrinsically good or evil, there are only opinions and personal preferences….

[The] rejection of absolute truth and relegation of all truth claims to the subjective is the basic definition of relativism…. [And] relativism and postmodernism are closely related—so much so that relativism is likely one of the most significant defining beliefs of postmodernists. The two are related, but not equal…so almost all postmodernists are relativists, but not all relativists are postmodernists.

Hand-in-hand with a rejection of absolute or objective truth is the rejection of religious exclusivity. Most postmodernists will also embrace religious pluralism. To be fair, we can look at pluralism in two different ways—first, pluralism on one definition is a fact. There are many different religions, and they believe many different things. This is pluralism in a largely descriptive sense, and should not be opposed by clear-thinking Christians. However, in a more prescriptive manner, most postmodernists affirm that not only do many different religions exist, but they are all equally valid. No religion is better than any other, no one religion or denomination is “true” and others “false”, they are all equally true (or, for the large contingent of postmodernists who reject theism, equally false).

These two concepts—relativism and pluralism—are as close as we will get to core, defining beliefs of postmodernism. Of course, clear-thinking Christians should see that both views are objectively false, and pluralism is demonstrably false. Biblically, there are actual rights and wrongs, and things aren’t wrong just because they violate some social norm. The “wrongness” of murder and rape aren’t something extrinsic (defined by society or culture), nor are they subjective (defined by individual preferences); murder and rape and other actions are intrinsically, objectively wrong. Wherever murder goes, the wrongness goes with it…. Beware of the slippery slope you’re on if you think society defines what is right and wrong; it’s a dangerous one. If the Nazis had won, then their values would have been the societal norm, and from their perspective, elimination of “The Jewish Problem” would have been the most advantageous from an evolutionary perspective. (Quote source here.)

In today’s society we are awash in a sea of postmodernism and relativism. In an October 2018 article titled, How Postmodernism Breeds Conflict,” by Nicolas Phillips, a law student and writer based in New York, he opens with the statement, “When we knock down truth, we get a free-for-all where bullies reign supreme.” The article is lengthy but here are a few quotes from it (the entire article is available at this link):

When Alan Bloom published “The Closing of the American Mind” in 1987, he described an American academy awash in postmodern relativism. Universities, rather than pushing students to find the truth, were inculcating the moral virtue of “openness,” such that the only belief that united anyone was that truth is relative. “What right,” Bloom described students perpetually asking, “do I or anyone else have to say one opinion is better than the others?” Postmodern academics themselves were aware of the phenomenon. In a 2004 essay in the journal “Critical Inquiry,” social theorist Bruno Latour noted, “Entire PhD programs are still running to make sure that good American kids are learning the hard way that facts are made up”….

Today’s students, the products of generations of postmodern relativism at every level of American education, are not the amoral hedonists that conservatives feared (a new study published in “Child Development” showed that teens are having sex, dating and drinking less than they used to). But neither are students the peaceful coexistors that progressives hoped for: One in five students now say that it’s acceptable to use violence to disrupt a controversial speaker. Indeed, campuses today are typified by the opposite of relativism: a new moral positivism. Young people are now comfortable asserting proscriptive norms and calling out rule-breakers, creating a taboo-laden culture that few anticipated.

We know from the much-discussed events last year at Evergreen State College—where students angered at perceived racial sleights succeeded in taking over the campus and holding its administration hostage—that this culture can sometimes take on an authoritarian character. Students’ moral positivism increasingly tips over into attempts to restrict the freedoms of disfavored groups. But how did places like Evergreen, perhaps the most welcoming territory in the world for postmodern relativism, end up playing host to its authoritarian opposite? (Quote source here.)

At this point Phillips discusses a conversation with a student at Evergreen regarding a situation in a classroom where a professor was verbally and loudly humiliated by students that helps to explain what happened. For the sake of space, you can read it at this link. The insight Phillips received from Hadley, the Evergreen student Phillips interviewed, was this:

When external sources of truth are knocked down, only one is left: the self. And the self, despite the hopes of well-intentioned postmoderns, is remarkably unwilling to acknowledge evidence of its own errors and bias. The self’s confidence in its rightness is too deeply rooted in our evolutionary psychology to really be threatened by the teachings of an abstract theory.

But for the same reason, a person will gleefully question the rightness of others. Postmodernists perhaps hoped that by deconstructing truth, people would aim the critique inward, humbly asking “Why is my truth any better than yours?” Instead, they phrase the same idea differently, defiantly asking “Why is your truth any better than mine?” It’s a recipe for perpetual conflict.

Postmodern tools of critique wind up being used to more effectively prosecute others and dismantle hierarchies that stand in the way of one’s own personal truth, which itself is never questioned—whether it’s Marxism or intersectionality or 4chan troll-anarchy. The underlying aim is always the pursuit of the ancient pleasure of exercising power over others. That’s what happened when the Evergreen students in Hadley’s class humiliated their professor. (Quote source here.)

At the end of the article Phillips states:

Knocking down external truths doesn’t breed peace. It turns society into a field of conflict between personal truths that compete against one another with less and less restraint. It creates social conditions that reward extremism, which becomes a useful adaptation in a Hobbesian moral landscape. Peace, it turns out, comes from hegemonic values—on agreement between us about what is true.

Postmodernism was supposed to liberate us from myths masquerading as facts. The problem is that a society can achieve nothing—including liberty, including social justice—without collective trust. And trust depends on fellow citizens feeling bound together by shared truths, values, and, yes, myths. Without them, society atomizes and degenerates into a war of all against all, an agglomeration of “selves” seeking to project power—the only truth that postmodernism knows. If we’d prefer to have a society instead of scorched earth, we must agree to be bound by truths and values and myths that lie outside ourselves. These truths and values and myths will be imperfect, they will be contingent, and they will be ripe for critique. But if we decide they don’t exist at all, soon enough, neither will we. (Quote source here.)

“But if we decide they don’t exist at all, soon enough, neither will we.” There is a whole lot of conflict on a variety of levels in our society today. Often it boils down to who can out-shout or intimidate the other, but as for actual understanding, empathy, trust? Apparently, it’s going the way of the dinosaur. And maybe, so are we….

For as one thinks . . .

Within his heart . . .

So is he . . . . 

YouTube Video: “What is Truth?” (1970) by Johnny Cash:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Plan B is the New Plan A

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”John Lennon (1940-1980), English singer, songwriter, and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles
When I was working on my undergraduate degree at a state university in the Midwest in Art and Design back in the mid-1980’s, I picked up a departmental minor in psychology as I was thinking about attending graduate school to become an Art Therapist. I knew I’d have to look in another state to find a master’s degree program in art therapy as that program was not available at a state university in the state where I lived. However, as I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree, I was advised to go in a different direction as art therapy was relatively new back then, and I was told it would be one of the first positions cut during a recession. Also, the out-of-state tuition was pretty stiff at the state university where it was offered.

I never ended up going in that direction but I did acquire 18 credits in psychology classes at the undergraduate level when I received my B.A. in Art and Design in 1985. I took classes in General Psychology, Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Perception (that class wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be but the male instructor was easy on the eyes), Abnormal Psychology, and the Psychology of Women which was a relatively new class back then. I needed 18 credit hours of psychology classes in my bachelor’s degree program in art and design to get into a master’s degree program in art therapy, and those were the psych classes I took to meet that requirement.

In hindsight, I should have gone into computer programming and technology. I had a real knack for it when computers first came on the scene (mostly word processors when they first showed up in the 1980’s), but I knew I could never be a super techie geek type. However, if I had gone in that direction way back then it sure would be a lot more useful to me right now then my bachelor’s degree in art and design or my master’s degree in higher education/student personnel services, and the doctoral work I did in adult education when I was awarded a one-year doctoral fellowship at a private university located in South Florida during the 1992-93 academic year.

Ten years ago I ended up on a journey I didn’t foresee and I couldn’t ever have imagined or planned for. The career I had for 20 years in higher education during and after I received my master’s degree suddenly and unexpectedly “bit the dust” ten years ago. To say that no one knows the future is an understatement, even for those with “the best laid plans.” While I never had a solid Plan A planned out for me when I was young (no, I didn’t want to be a nurse when I was 5 but I did figure at some point I’d get married and have kids), I took opportunities as they opened up to me. However, I just never saw that major detour coming my way ten years ago, but it has given me at least one big opportunity to create and write on two blogs (my first blog started in 2010) and that never would have happened had I found another job right away (which is what I wanted and thought I desperately needed back then since I was single and self-supporting).

However, God had other plans and these past ten years have been quite a ride that I never expected. And I have learned a whole lot of stuff I never knew before and also to take life one day at a time.

In an article titled, Your Plan B Is Still God’s Plan A,” by Sandra Peoples, MDiv,  executive editor for Key Ministry and Not Alone (Patheos), she writes:

Very few of us are living our Plan A scenario, whether in our professional or personal lives. Years before our failed church plant, my husband and I heard a psychologist utter words we never wanted to hear: “We believe your son has autism.” In 1977, my parents’ future was upended, too, when they were told that my newborn sister had Down syndrome. All of us sooner or later experience hardships that irrevocably shape our lives.

Although each story is different, Scripture offers us the same enduring truth: Every detour involves God’s presence, purpose, and redeeming power. In other words, our Plan B is still his Plan A.

We see this in the lives of Job, Ruth, Jonah, and Peter.

In the midst of his struggles, Job held on to the peace that surpasses all understanding: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth” (Job 19:25). In the end, God restored his family and his wealth. But it was the peace of seeing God’s faithfulness that he carried with him until his death: “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years” (Job 42:16–17).

God’s provision for Ruth and Naomi was clear every step of their journey. Although they started out desperate and poor, when they arrived back in Bethlehem, God led Ruth to glean in Boaz’s field. After following the advice of Naomi, Boaz became Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, a provision God had ordained generations before to protect vulnerable widows. Each time Ruth had a decision to make, God’s provision was apparent.

In the story of Jonah, God was with him on the ship and in the belly of the great fish. His presence was clear when he provided a vine to shade Jonah as he sat alone on the hill, and then when he led him to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance. He was omnipresent from ocean depths to hillsides.

Peter, too, had to embrace Plan B when he became a disciple. But the disruption brought great blessing: He had a front-row seat to see God’s power on display through the life of his son [Jesus]. He saw Jesus’ power over nature when he walked on water, over demons as he cast them out, over disease as he healed the sick, over death as he raised Lazarus, and over sin with his death and resurrection.

The great 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “What if others suffer shipwreck, yet none that sail with Jesus have ever been stranded yet.” This was true for Job, Ruth, Jonah, and Peter—they were never stranded—and it’s true for us, as well. When we accept that Plan B is the new Plan A, we can be assured of God’s never-ending presence, provision, and power, even in the midst of storms. (Quote source here.)

Whenever I get to wondering about this Plan B that I find myself in and wondering where it is headed, one of the most reassuring things I do is to read the Psalms. The Book of Psalms in the Old Testament has several authors and David (as a shepherd and as King) authored many of them. There are so many folks today especially in the younger generations who don’t believe in God or at least the God of the Bible. I  can’t imagine not believing in God, and I sometimes wonder where folks turn who have no faith in God when hard times hit. I find great strength and hope in God that I could never muster up on my own. He is there and that I know very well especially in light of these past ten years.

Take, for example, the words found in Psalm 139:1-18 (a psalm of David):

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Who wouldn’t want a God like that on their side? Seriously! Until my last breath I will never understand why people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in Him as He knows everything about us and He directs our paths even when others think our current set of circumstances look like a joke without a punch line.

God is the God of impossible situations. He can make a way where there seems to be no way, and the Bible is absolutely full of examples of God doing just that for those who completely trust in Him, but He does it in His way and timing and not ours.

Going back as far as I can remember Proverbs 3:5-6 have been instrumental in my life:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,

    and he will make your paths straight.

And a verse that meant so much to my mother is found in 2 Samuel 22:31 (and it is identical to Psalm 18:30):

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.

Along with a second verse that also meant a lot to her (actually two verses but I’ll preface them with verse 13 first) that are found in I John 5:14-15:

I write these things [see I John 5] to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

When Jesus opened the Parable of the Persistent Widow by telling his disciples that they should always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1-8), he meant it. I mentioned that at the end of my last blog post but it needs repeating, so let me repeat it one more time…

Always pray . . .

And . . .

Don’t give up . . . .

YouTube Video: “Whenever God Shines His Light” by Van Morrison:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here