Moving Forward with New Perspective

Focusing on God brings a comforting perspective of God's tender care for us in all situations.

By Amy Sparkman

Categories: Abraham and Sarah, David, Easter (Passion Week), Guidance, Joseph, New Year/Change, Psalms

The start of a new year gives us the perfect opportunity to re-boot our daily life strategy – to refresh our perspective and our approach.

Are we measuring our days in terms of highs and lows? Are we feeling like the lows outnumber the highs? The news sure paints that picture! So, it’s up to us as individuals to review the sweet moments, the good turn of events, the resolution of conflicts, the restoration of peace. Most of all, we must reconsider the immeasurable value of the process it takes for life to unfold.

The fact is, man is good and life is good because God is infinite good right here, right now and always. As we get to know our God, we experience all the blessings that come with that knowledge. What’s more, we find that life consists of learning points rather than high and low points.

The start of a new year is a perfect time to help our children look at their daily lives as an endless strand of learning experiences and opportunities rather than as a relentless treadmill of challenges and responsibilities.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

The psalmist’s “valley” symbolizes a low point –- when we feel like a victim of unexpected and unwanted circumstances or a target for someone else’s problems. But the psalmist makes a brilliant point about valleys when he describes them as “shadows of death.” Death is anything that kills our spirit, poisons our peace, destroys our confidence, annihilates our enthusiasm, and deadens our heart. Certainly, the issues we face each day can take on death’s persona – if we let them!

But the psalmist describes death as a shadow. A shadow is dark, yes; but it has absolutely no substance. It consists of nothing – no thing. How can that be? Chores, hard assignments, unfair teachers, a losing team, sickness, friend troubles, lack of money – any of the issues we might be facing – are real, and they are most definitely not “nothing.” Right?

The answer depends entirely on our point of view. Are we seeing obstacles or opportunities? Obstacles get larger and larger over time. Opportunities get richer and richer in much less time. So, the question is: how do we change the hard edges of an obstacle into the smooth surface of an opportunity?

There’s only one good answer: we change our perspective, and we do that by remembering who our Maker is. When Moses told God how afraid he was to lead his people out of Egypt, God made a statement that holds true for all of us: You tell the people that I sent you, and that I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3) In other words, God is ALWAYS and ONLY creating, inspiring, guiding, and leading the way. And we, his children, are created to humbly and willingly listen and follow.

If we do this, faithfully, we will sing with the psalmist, “I will fear no evil.” In other words, in every “shadow of death” moment, we will turn to God and remind ourselves of what God is. In so doing, our perspective will change.

The simplest statements of spiritual truth can change our thinking in a nano-second. A sense of peace brings tremendous release from fear and doubt. Understanding that God is Love turns our thought outward to where we feel connected to others, instead of inward where its lonely. Remembering that God is infinite Spirit fills us with an attitude of joy and expectation, leading to fresh ideas and new views, even of the same-old situations we are facing.

Once we have re-booted our daily life strategy, we have to practice it. We have to own it by applying it to specific situations. We have to look for ways to be more compassionate and loving when we least want to and especially when it seems unfair. To better understand how to do this, let’s consider the example of several well-known Bible characters, who lived their love for God every day and especially in some pretty remarkable circumstances.

Think of Abraham, who nearly sacrifices his son, Isaac. Then there’s Joseph, who survives years of slavery and slander. David is terrorized for no good reason. Jesus is falsely accused and fatally punished. Yet, each one refused to doubt or deny the presence and power of God right in the midst of challenging moments.

Abraham acknowledges God as his Maker when he replaces Isaac on the altar with a lamb. Joseph lives in harmony with God and is elevated to one high-ranking position after another until he ultimately reunites with his family. David depends upon God to escape Solomon’s death decree and honors God by sparing the king’s life when he has the chance to kill him. The ultimate example is Jesus, who personifies God’s saving grace throughout the crucifixion and resurrection, teaching us that no low point is too deep for God to be GOD.

Nothing can rob us of our God-given perception of any obstacle as an opportunity. There’s no time like the present to turn our thoughts to God where we will always find a new perspective, especially when we feel like we are “walk(ing) through the valley of the shadow of death.” That’s how we can turn days of high and low points into a new year of unfolding good!