Tag Archives: point of view

Lessons From A Train Window

A few weeks ago, I took a day to go into Washington DC to enjoy some of what our nation’s capitol has to offer. The weather was sunny yet a bit chilly. The crowds were minimum. And the day was great as I … Enjoyed the Smithsonian Museums to the National Zoo. Perused the gardens and the National Mall. Stared up the sides of the obelisk that pierces the landscape in the center of it all. And, savored a wonderful gourmet burger and chocolate beverage from the local Shake Shack. A good respite for just a day away from the norm.

To get around the wearisome I-95 traffic, I took Amtrak. I travelled on the 98 Silver Meteor line into Union station. And though they had a delay for over an hour just outside Fredericksburg, it was still better than being in my car sitting or snailing (yes a new word I just invented = driving at a snail’s pace.) While in the train riding to and fro, I sat in a booth in the dining car where I enjoyed my beverage, watched a movie on my iPad, relaxed with some reading and even wrote a few letters.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of a train as I observed the diverse personalities and characters of fellow riders – sleepers, snugglers, squirmiers, stragglers and snackers. The steward kept singing, which was just a grand way of entertaining the few of us in the dining car.

On this leg of my journey, an epiphany occurred to me. An interesting and applicable truth was revealed. I was reading and studying some about the narrative of the Angels appearing around Bethlehem some 2000 years ago (the first Christmas). The Angels declared “Peace on Earth!” But yet, it doesn’t seem like there really is much peace. Russia mounting troops near Ukraine. Iran hacking Israeli media outlets. Americans fighting over political power. And that doesn’t even breach the personal agonies of people facing health issues, elderly parents struggling, families divided, crime escalating, etc. And don’t forget recent natural (and man made) disasters like the Midwest tornadoes, the Colorado fires, or the northwest freaky snow storms to name a few. The Angels declared “Peace on Earth!” It seemed questionable.

The Angels declared “Peace on Earth!” But yet, it doesn’t seem like there really is much peace.

Okay, let me connect this … on the train, I was looking out the window. America has such a diverse and beautiful landscape. I saw rivers, forests, beaches, diverse architecture, a sunrise over the Potomac, and more. But looking straight out the window, all I really saw was a blur. The view I had was of me going through the world so fast, I only was seeing streaks of madness. And to honest, it produced quite a headache.

But … and this is a huge but … when I looked a little forward, taking the vision in from a ‘where we are headed’ point of view, I saw the landscape, the sights, the diverse beauty. It was quite a change of perspective. It was calming and delightful. We were headed forward – along the path intended – and we will get there.

Life gets messy. Shoes get muddy. And if all we look at is the blur straight out the window, madness is all we will see. You may be in a hard part of your life journey right now. Things may seem crazy and harsh and hopeless. And looking out the window, all you see is a blur of circumstances overwhelming you. And you question the proclamation of peace on earth. But if we look ahead, we get a better point of view, we see things in a clearer perspective. We realize God doesn’t take us out of the storms but gets us through them. It’s not that all things are good, but that all things work together for the good (Romans 8:28). We are headed forward. There is a path He has for us. Just keep your eyes ahead (Hebrews 12:1-2). And the One who started working in your life will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

And so, when the Angels declared “Peace on Earth” we need to look a little past the craziness of Christmas then and now. We see God has a plan. And that statement, the proclamation, that promise … Peace on Earth … it’s real.

Tomorrow, I’ll share a little more on the peace of which the the Angels spoke. Till then … Stop looking at the blur … there is a much better view if you look ahead.

………

Romans 8:28, Hebrews 12:1-2, Colossians 1:19-20, Philippians 1:6

Disagreements don’t have to be warfare

It’s the week of the RNC, so let’s talk elephants (but not politics.)

The elephant is a majestic creature. They’ve been around awhile and have been domesticated in some ways to be used in industry, entertainment, warfare and more. Did you know that it is females that are mostly trained because male elephants don’t really work well with humans? Except in warfare, girl elephants run from boy elephants – so not the best warriors.

I’ve stood in awe at elephants. I’ve seen them at a variety of zoos and such. Watched the Discovery channel. I’ve even read/seen Dumbo and Horton Hears a Who. Classics.

But today, my mind drifts to that piece of folklore of several blind men discovering an elephant for the first time. Each one explores a different part of the creature and comes to totally different conclusions. One author (Greg Koukl) summarizes the results as such …

  1. The first blind man put out his hand and touched the side of the elephant. “How smooth! An elephant is like a wall.”
  2. The second blind man put out his hand and touched the trunk of the elephant. “How round! An elephant is like a snake.”
  3. The third blind man put out his hand and touched the tusk of the elephant. “How sharp! An elephant is like a spear.”
  4. The fourth blind man put out his hand and touched the leg of the elephant. “How tall! An elephant is like a tree.”
  5. The fifth blind man reached out his hand and touched the ear of the elephant. “How wide! An elephant is like a fan.”
  6. The sixth blind man put out his hand and touched the tail of the elephant. “How thin! An elephant is like a rope.”

An argument ensued. Each posted on Facebook calling the other liars and spreaders off fake news. The lines were drawn in the sand and not one of the six even listened, much less tried to understand, the others. A few took to the street to protest. Others hid in their homes and just fumed. One applied for a concealed weapon permit to protect himself from the others. One made a book deal and went on news media to share his story and why others are more than just blind, they are ignorant. One even said to think otherwise is the way Hitler made people think.

Okay. Maybe that’s not the original legend, and maybe I slid into a little politics. But it is amazing that in reading about the DNC and the RNC, and watching some snippets from both, people can watch the exact same thing and come to opposite points of view.

Is he mad at the driver? Did the driver try to hit the elephant? Or maybe the beast just needed to scratch an itch on his belly and the car was the only thing that would reach that hard to reach spot?

I know this is nothing new, it’s been around like this for … well since man has been here.

But it’s hard to watch. And even harder to live through all this. I don’t have quick fixes or fortune cookie statements that draws all men together. But I do have a challenge from scripture for each of us. Basically – put others before yourself.

Put others first!

What would this world be like if we practiced that – or at least tried to practice that? I’m not talking about being a door mat or allowing others to take advantage of you – but just living humbly, polite, and realizing we are not the center of the universe.

What a beautiful world this would be.

A Change in Our Perspective

My son is learning a valuable lesson about marriage. They are still in their first year, but the pronoun use is adapting more and more. It of becoming less “her or me,” less “her’s or mine,” and more “us” and “ours.” There is that point that our mind just gets it.

Shepherd boy David, soon to be King David, in the middle of the 23rd Psalm, changes his point of view too. In verse 4, he goes from talking about God in the third person to talking to him in the second person. No longer “He makes” or “He leads” but now it is “You are with me.”

Why the change? One theologian said it this way …

We are more prone to talk about God when we are in the green pasture and more prone to cry out to God when we enter some fearful ravine.

John Piper

As we are reminded of in verse 2 and 3, he has to make us lie down in green pastures – and he restores us, sometimes from when we stray. We really get comfortable and often wander off from God in the good and cheery days.

But when life gets tough, we cling to Him. We draw close for strength, protection, mercy.

He is my God in the good times too. And we should draw close to Him there as well. But like David, sometimes it takes that hard time to really realize his presence.

So count it all joy when you encounter trails – for it just might change your perspective in a great way.