“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Do you ever lose perspective? I know at times I do. Webster defines perspective as, “the ability to see things in their true relationships.” An artist can create the illusion of perspective on a canvas by painting objects in their correct depth relationships. Spiritually speaking, perspective comes when we seek to view events in our lives from God’s vantage point rather than our own. Only He has perfect vision. Yet down here on earth, our view is often clouded by the temporal. We need the Spirit to blow the fog from our soul so the eyes of our heart can gaze upon the ruggedly beautiful mountains of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. Or, when the fog stubbornly refuses to clear, we must choose to see the mountains by faith.
God illuminated this truth to me in the midst of a family road trip. Sometime after Hannah’s death, Dave and I thought it would be good for us to get away. Some friends offered us their condo at Lake Tahoe for a week. Since we would be heading north through the bowels of California, we decided to visit a few close friends along the way.
“Hey, what about visiting Hannah's doctor?” My husband queried. While we were in San Diego, Hannah's doctor had been a youthful, cheerful man who brimmed with compassion for the children he treated. Dave and I both agreed that he was one of the best doctors we could have asked for. He would do anything to help if he felt that it was in the child’s best interest.
Through different conversations we were aware that he was not a follower of Christ, although he was one of the nicest and most caring people you could ever meet. “Wouldn’t he be an awesome Christian?!!” Dave and I would repeat to each other often, envisioning the effect his compassion would have on the world if it were fueled by the love of Christ. We both remembered that Hannah's doctor had decided to leave his position in San Diego and opt for a quieter life in Central California. He was tired of his young daughters thinking they had to be “Brittney Spears”, he had told us.
I love road trips, and it was fun to be together as a family. I brought some games along to entertain C.J. in the car. That evening we arrived in a small town outside of the bigger town where Hannah's doctor lived. We searched through the small town streets until we found a Mexican restaurant that seemed popular with the locals, and decided to eat dinner there. Since evening hadn’t yet wrapped the town in darkness, we strolled to the town square. Being from Southern California, where “downtown” means skycrapers rising toward the clouds and slow- flowing freeways bulging with cars, it seemed quaint to me to experience this “downtown”. It had a certain nostalgic appeal. “Is this what Mayberry was like?” I wondered with a chuckle.
C.J. trotted around on the manicured lawn that sprawled in front of a large brick building. My eyes were immediately drawn to a gigantic mural that decorated the entire side of the building. As darkness finally pressed down upon the town, flood lights popped on, illuminating the scene of an orange grove. Workers dotted the panorama, strong arms outstretched in search of ripe citrus. The colors were so vivid and the painting so vast that it captivated my imagination.
Since C.J. was occupied with skipping around on the grass, I decided to move closer and inspect the mural. I climbed up onto a brick walkway that spanned the length of the building. Positioning myself next to a flood light, I gazed intently at the little section of painting illuminated by the glow. To my surprise, the crisp colors I had enjoyed from farther off blurred in front of my eyes into a mass of dark green blobs. It was actually ugly. The little piece of the painting I was looking at made no sense.
At that moment, I felt God gently whisper to my heart. He said, “Linda, right now your life feels a lot like those dark smears of paint. The pain of Hannah’s death looms large and ugly before your eyes. But when you step back and look at things from my perspective, I will make all things beautiful.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I stretched out my hand to gently caress the wall. I realized that God was calling me to trust Him with my pain, to believe that He really does know what He’s doing, and that He does have a plan to orchestrate the lives of all believers (even the ugly parts) into a glorious mural of praise to Him. From our earthly perspective, it doesn’t make sense, but He can see the end from the beginning.
Sometimes He gives us a little glimpse into the grandness of his plan. The next morning as we met Hannah's doctor for breakfast, can you guess where he took us to eat? Yes, to a little café right next to the mural. And as our conversation unfolded, we learned with great joy that he and his wife had recently come to know the Lord Jesus. And, that they had also recently bought the brick building with the mural on it and planned to turn it into a clinic to help provide medical care for migrant farm workers. Wow – our God truly is amazing. He truly is the Master Artist. Praise Him for his sovereignty, and for allowing us to see just a small glimpse of the view from his perspective!