It’s all about perspective
Now that the busyness of Christmas and New Year’s Eve is over you may have found time for quiet reflection. You may have reflected on your life in 2023. You may have started thinking about what you would like 2024 to bring you.
Life can be difficult at times. Jesus said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
But Jesus started by saying we have peace in him. We need to lift our eyes to him and know that he is, and will always be, our peace.
Freedom from Negativity
Our western culture is very negative and it is easy to slip into that way of thinking. But to see things from a different perspective, especially God’s perspective, is to free us from negativity.
In November I had a particularly draining week. Each of the several things that happened over three days were about endings. It was very easy for me to fall into despair at what was happening. I felt I had failed in all these various areas. I tried very hard to not say I was a failure, but that was an added pressure. As I allowed myself to fall into this, I began to see everything that happened through that lens of failure.
Fortunately, I had already arranged to see a trusted friend and fellow church member at the end of that week. It would have been easy to answer her ‘how are you?’ question with ‘Fine’. However I didn’t and told her how I was feeling. She considered each of these things and spoke encouragement and support. She put it all into perspective. She helped lift me out of the downward spiral of despair. I could start seeing these things through a different lens. I was not a failure and the ending of things is not about failing.
Renewing the Mind
This change in perspective is sometimes referred to as cognitive reframing but I prefer to think of it in terms of the Bible verse about renewing the mind.
Romans 12:2 (The Message)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:
Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
The day after visiting my friend, Tom preached on Overcoming Temptations. His talk gave a new perspective on areas where we can be tempted. He spoke about the sin of self-reliance where temptation leads us to fulfil our desires independently of God. Using Matthew 4:1-11, he spoke about three areas where we can be tempted by: 1. Providing for self, 2. My will be done and 3. Taking a shortcut.
Listening, I saw how elements of all three of these temptations were evident in my week. It is all too easy for me to wallow in self-pity. The talk helped me again to put the week into perspective.
Where are you now?
What things do you need to find a new perspective on?
Which areas of your life could do with some quiet reflection and a new action?
It may seem like a mountain in your life at the moment and something you’re not willing to deal with. I know that feeling! But I have discovered that these things are often bigger in our minds and thinking than they are in actuality. So go for it.
Now you might be thinking ‘but it’s scary’. And it probably is, but courage is about being scared BUT doing it anyway.
God puts us in community. The great thing about the community of Jubilee Church is that we support each other. We just have to ask for help. Don’t worry if the person is younger than you. God-given wisdom has no age barrier.
Look back at the promises God has spoken over you. God has also spoken over Jubilee Church. Let’s move forward together in 2024 to build community within the church and then take it out to the world.
It may be scary but take courage from God and those around us as we fulfil our purpose.