Sunday, April 03, 2011

A Change Of Perspective

I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday. A small one perhaps, but one nonetheless. Per usual, it was embedded within an undesirable situation. The morning (and several days preceding) that we were set to put a “house for sale” sign in our yard, we had a plumber on-site digging holes in the yard and cutting our main line sewer pipes in order to locate an elusive, root-infested area of our line. Perfectionist as I am, this did not work well into my plans at all. After a couple of days worth of failed attempts, no progress had been made and time was quickly passing by.

As the sounds of the pipe auger were roaring on the other side of the wall, Kristin and I were discussing this frustrating predicament. “I don’t want to put the for sale signs in the yard while a plumber is on-site, digging holes all over the yard outside and having drain issues inside.” I said. I wanted to have the house up for sale two weeks ago but do to horrible weather, awful bouts with the flu and a few other trivial issues, it had not happened. And with the arrival of our first child in August, I absolutely have a clear timeline in my head of how things will need to unfold from here on out regarding a potential move. Kristin stated, “Why now? Why in the world, after living in this house for eight years, would we have this issue the week we’re putting the house up for sale?”. A very valid and appropriate question I thought. But what I thought in response was… well, unexpected.

“What if all of this is happening because of something so much bigger than the surface issue?” I asked in response. “What if this is happening now because whoever will buy this house is praying as we are for our future home. That it will be free from any issues or repairs - in great condition with no secrets or surprises. Just what if this is happening now, to us so that we might bless whoever it is that will buy this house? What if the extra few weeks we’ve needed to get everything in order will allow the perfect buyer to see it at the perfect time?”. I was, somewhat to my own surprise, thinking differently, above the earthly, natural circumstance.

When Kristin and I have been praying together recently, as we look to move and forge into the unknown we just thank God for this house that has been our home for eight years now. We’ve matured here, naturally and spiritually. God has moved here tangibly, in awesome, inexplicable ways in this very study that I now sit and write in. We have been honored and shown the favor of the LORD here. We’ve cried here together in great sadness, disappointments and hurts. We’ve laughed and loved - on the Father, on one another and on others. We thanked Him that the pipes never once overflowed or burst or became an “emergency” situation. We thanked Him for His abundance and for His goodness, together.

You see, this world, even in Christian circles, is just riddled with negativity and despair and "why me?". I just don’t want to live like that.

Much of life is viewed through lenses clouded with disappointment and disdain for so many, overlooking what is right before their eyes. Dread and sadness are powerful things, roaming this earth, robbing scores of people from the joy of the LORD but it doesn’t have to be this way.

So within this little life lesson is buried a great and powerful seed of truth. We absolutely must start viewing circumstances with our spiritual eyes. We must ask the LORD for eyes to see. We must spend time in His awesome, perspective-changing presence! Turn off the news, unplug from the countless hours of internet browsing, gaming and lift your eyes! We who are born from above are now called out to see and experience a life that is not bound to this natural world and its wares! We are reborn for a purpose! Let me ask you to ponder on some of your life experiences. When something you would deem as “bad” happens in your life, what is your response? Dread or joy? Despair and disappointment or opportunity? Anger and doubt or praise and adoration of the Father?

My initial response to life’s challenges is far too often rooted in my natural man. How does it affect me? Why did this happen to me? Self-focus and self-preservation, the natural response. But I’m a new creation. I’m an heir. I’m an Ambassador for The Christ. I’ve been made alive, regenerated. I don’t have to follow this earthly, natural mindset anymore for I’ve been reborn! The mind of Christ that I am to “put on” takes action, just like putting on shoes or a coat. I must take action to change my ways of thinking, renewing my mind. It’s imperative for the Body of Christ to stop looking at everything from an earthly, natural perspective. How we share Christ with others, how we gather, what we do with our finances, how we look, what caste we’re a part of, what we spend our time and efforts doing, how define success, how we respond to disappointments or trials, etcetera.

We must develop and cultivate our spiritual perspective!

The Word tells us that those who are in Christ are seated with Him now in heavenly places. This perspective is where I want to see from and respond out of. I long to meditate more and more on what is eternal. When a challenge comes, I desire to stop and seek the words of the Spirit first. What is He saying? What outcome is He desiring to see come to pass from this? How can this circumstance assist in my becoming more Christ-like? May we begin to think through our responses and get above the mindset of the natural that is so limiting.

In John chapter 6 hordes of people followed Jesus as He performed miracles,signs and wonders. It's worthwhile to note that these were not just all random crowds but also "many of His disciples". After He began to turn their attention to spiritual matters (vs. 26), everything changed. The people then began to grumble and then, in verse 66, "As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore." May we who would consider ourselves a disciple of Christ, not do likewise, reveling in what Jesus can do for us in the natural, but completely missing His entire purpose and meaning of it all, the spiritual. If the Body of Christ doesn't learn to walk according to the spirit, She will continue to walk forward alone in Her own natural strengths and abilities, leaving Jesus behind.

We, who often boastfully claim to be not of this world, need to start acting like it.

I wonder if there were some way to accurately calculate how often professing Believers walk according to the Spirit as opposed as to their natural flesh, what results we'd find. I think we'd be appalled. I do often wonder why the Body of Christ at large seems so disinterested in, and often completely opposed to matters of the Spirit. Perhaps it all boils down to our unwillingness to embark into the unknown, laying down control of our lives in complete submission. Should our perspective and views on the circumstances of life not be so radical and different than the natural, worldly kind? Sadly, there is just little difference to be found. It is a work of the Spirit of the Living God. Only He can enable us and teach us, but it is our responsibility to place ourselves under His guidance and discipline, putting on the mind of Christ. I urge you today to quiet yourself. Hear what the Spirit of the LORD is saying in this hour, in the midst of your life situations. The question is not, “Is He speaking today?” but rather “Are we listening?” and if we are faithful and willing to listen, will we heed what we hear, no matter how it may oppose the common, natural perspective? I say today, may the people of the Lord begin to put on the mind of Christ, giving them eyes to see and ears to hear in this hour forsaking all else that would hinder this change in perspective. Amen.


Anonymous said...

Are we listening? The question before that must be: Do you believe God speaks? For years I've wondered why we don't listen more often - BUT lately I've been wondering how many believe He speaks! I'm an alien for sure. :)

Susan B

Joel Spencer said...

Susan: The thing about aliens, they're not too hard to spot when you come across them. I thank God that you and Richard have chosen to share your "other-worldly" experiences with us. :)

Greg L. said...

Oh how true this is! Thanks for encouraging me to rise above my troubles and trials and see what is to be gleaned from them. The Church needs to arise from their slumber and hear this message. We're not meant to be act like downtrodden victims of circumstance.

Joel Spencer said...

Greg: I'm glad you're encouraged! I agree, those who claim to have their identity in Christ should be the ones setting the example of not relying on self. It's not that we're invincible and should pretend all is perfect (because it's obviously never going to be). However, we have the ultimate One interceding on our behalf and the Spirit enabling us to walk in joy, no matter what comes. The mind of Christ literally transforms us from worldly-temporal minded ones that are swayed by the winds of life to renewed overcomers with joy that is unshakable!

Steve Martin said...

"The mind of Christ literally transforms us from worldly-temporal minded ones that are swayed by the winds of life to renewed overcomers with joy that is unshakable!"

And how!

Reminds me of St. Paul. Look at all that guy went through.