I was so upset.
Why did I only get a dollar bill when my older brother got FOUR quarters!? How was that even fair?
My finite, 4-year old mind just could not understand why my mom had given my older brother more money than me.
Of course, it’s easy to look back on that moment now and see how petty it was, but at the time, my perspective was so narrow and so preoccupied with what I hadn’t received that it felt as if my whole world had been shaken.
It wasn’t until I gained a little perspective that I was able to see that even though what we had been given may have looked different, we had both received the same amount of money.
Since that moment, I have found that perspective is one of the hardest things to attain.
It seems to require this constant effort to restrain from embracing the presently preoccupying patterns of this world in order to keep my heart and mind focused on Jesus Christ.
Why is this so hard?
Why do we struggle with remaining focused on the reality that this world and its desires are indeed fleeting, but that the one who does the will of God participates in eternal purpose (1 John 2:17)?
This is such a beautiful and exciting truth, you’d think we would be more apt to focus on it rather than on the hum-drum ways of this world.
Yet here we are, unable to see the forest for the trees.
And I’m just as guilty as the next person.
I get so distracted sometimes.
I lose sleep over things.
I get preoccupied with my work, my relationships, my expectations, and my writing (yes – even my writing).
Does that mean we can’t dedicate time to these things?
Of course not. They are important and they deserve our attention.
What makes something – even something good – preoccupying though is when it “dominates or engrosses the mind to the point of completely excluding other thoughts.”
Early on when I first started writing, it was all I could think about.
It started out innocently and was rather exciting, but there was a moment when I realized that the time I had dedicated to God in the mornings had somehow become my writing time.
And while my writing revolves around my faith and is often about God, it still falls short of a heart consumed by Jesus Christ.
I had allowed myself to become so preoccupied with my writing, with developing a brand and creating something people would want to read that I forgot where the insight and inspiration actually came from.
This preoccupation with my writing had indeed excluded all other thoughts, including any regard for the importance of time spent alone with Christ.
So what do we do when we notice that our thoughts and time have become preoccupied?
Over the last several months of writing and learning to delegate my time and attention, I have found that simply returning to basics is invaluable to regaining eternal perspective.
Let’s take David for example.
In 1 Samuel 17 we read of David and Goliath – how this young boy defeated a warrior with a simple sling and five stones.
In this beautiful story of faith in action there are two, very conscious behaviors that David practices as he deals with his present situation
The first – He remembers his eternal position in Jesus Christ.
When you lose perspective on a situation and become preoccupied with the giant before you, read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (vs. 21).
In returning to the core of our faith – to the truth that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf we are made righteous before God; as we return to this realization, our perspective will begin to shift from feelings of self-preservation to acting out of our eternal position already determined in Christ.
Second – He minimized.
As David approached one of the biggest (literally – Goliath was a giant!) challenges of his life, he didn’t scrambling to acquire all the knowledge and resources he could before actually making the decision to face Goliath.
In fact, he denied it (1 Samuel 17:38-40).
Instead, he took with him:
- His sling. This was his practice; his job. He knew how to handle a sling better than anyone because it was his livelihood.
- Five stones. The resources God had blessed him with. Though it seemed bare in the eyes of the world, it was more than enough, and David trusted that.
- The power of God Almighty. David remembered the God he served and trusted in His promise to never leave him nor forsake him.
Are you getting this?
Whenever I had a big decision or challenge before me, I often sought out all the advice, all the knowledge, developed a lengthy pros and cons list, and had a well thought out A, B, and quite possibly C Plan.
This is not what David demonstrates though.
David trusted God and His provision.
He remembered and acted out of his eternal position as the righteousness of God.
And he utilized the platform on which God had placed him, making use of the skills he had already developed.
When we need a little outlook, it’s in the returning to the very basics of who we are and who we serve that provides such an eternal perspective.
So perhaps it’s time to stop for a moment.
Take a breath.
Put down your pros and cons list.
Postpone that coffee date.
Take inventory of what God has provided you and the platform on which He has placed you.
Remember that you are the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.
You have an eternal position in heaven and with that comes an eternal perspective.
Clear your schedule and clear you thoughts – trust that God will make His light shine in your heart to give you the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
And always remember – you are a son or daughter of eternal purpose and belong in the big picture. Stop preoccupying your thoughts with the finite and take in the magnificent view.