Perspective and a prayer request
Ever see a situation on the horizon, and you know, without a doubt, it’s something that you’re going to have to deal with? You know you can’t avoid it. It won’t be pleasant. It’s probably not what you would have wanted. But somehow, you just know – that the only way out is through.
Maybe you’ve been there with a relationship. Maybe it was your friend, a boss, a competitor, or even a government office. Right now, for me – it’s my health. I greatly appreciate the emails of concern, consolation, and the offers to pray for me (and I really, really hope you follow up on that!). I’m on the mend, but this is not the end of whatever is off-kilter in my systems. There will be more tests to take at a later date, more mysteries to be unraveled. But for now, I am to rest and recover, knowing full well that the only way out is through.
Just yesterday, God brought a passage to me that helps put it all in perspective. Near the end of Paul’s recorded ministry, he is on his way to Jerusalem. He knows what will happen if he goes back. In fact, everyone knows what he will face. The devout Jews would turn on this former rabbinical star in a heartbeat. Paul would be arrested, beaten, and quite likely killed. So, why go back? I’ll let him answer that:
Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the church. When they came to him, he said to them:
“You know, from the first day I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility, with tears, and during the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. You know that I did not avoid proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching you publicly and from house to house. I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, compelled by the Spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in every town the Holy Spirit warns me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”
Oh wow, does that resonate! But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose…that is a man who has clear eyes and proper perspective. He sees the value of his life, not in his own comforts and desires, but in his purposeful pursuit of the work God has given him – to testify to [the good news] of God’s grace.
That’s the perspective we need in order to handle the difficulties we see on the horizon. Stop looking at our immediate circumstances, get aligned with God, see from His vantage point, and then look back down on what we’re facing. Difficulties can be managed when they have been placed in their proper context. That doesn’t mean that the difficulties will be removed – Paul knew there were chains and afflictions waiting. There’s no amount of perspective that makes them go away. However, looking at life from God’s viewpoint gives us the strength to go through.
So if you choose to petition our Great God on my behalf, I would rather you not pray for healing. If I fully recover, that’s great. If I end up worse off, that’s fine. If I now have a “new normal”, so be it. Instead, I would ask that you pray I stay aligned with God, keep His perspective on everything, and do the work God has given me. My prayer is that you also learn to live this way.
But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.