On Thursday, January 7, 2021, I posted (jokingly, of course) a meme on my Facebook wall that read, “I’d like to cancel my subscription to 2021. I’ve experienced the free 7-day trial, and I’m not interested.” If you follow the news at all, you would probably say that my humor was at least a little justified that day. I was definitely frustrated with humans as a whole last Thursday after watching the big news story of the day unfold on Wednesday.
But, as I listened to and reflected on Sunday’s sermon, I noticed I wrote the word perspective in my notes about 20 different times. Two people could probably look at last Wednesday or Thursday and have completely different perspectives.
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them.”
— Numbers 13:1–2
Much like the twelve chiefs sent to check out the promised land–different sets of eyes saw different visions last week. While some saw political strife, some foolishness and embarrassment on all sides, others perhaps saw something very different. Maybe they saw a loved one for the last time that day. Perhaps they laid eyes on their new baby for the first time. Maybe it was the day a prodigal son came home, or maybe it signaled the day someone got to ring the “end of chemo” bell. Perhaps it was the day someone accepted Jesus as Lord of their life for the first time. While the perspective of ten of us might have been on the things of this world, somewhere there were two that were looking beyond what is going on here.
I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.
— Exodus 23:27–31
Perspective isn’t just about hindsight. Perspective is about being present in the journey. Journeys are never easy. And honestly if the journey was always easy, would it really be worth it? Obstacles have purpose. They bring lessons, and grow character and integrity. They breed appreciation and gratitude. When obstacles are out in front of you, it is sometimes hard to envision the rewards on the other side. I think that is probably something we have all felt in 2020, and now in the first ten days of 2021. But God’s delay is not his denial. Instead, It is his plan. The obstacles on the journey grow us, stretch us, and build our faith.
“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”
— Numbers 14:7–9
Which brings me back to the beginning of my story. I realized that as a Christian, we have to consider ALL of these things. We are to be set apart. Our perspective has influence in our circles. What are we putting out into the world? Is our faith shining through, or hiding behind our keyboards? Is God’s love shining through, or are we cowering in fear? Do people see the cross when they see us, and does what we say and do show them that the gift of the cross was for them, too? Let’s put our FAITH on display for the world to see, and show them that God is for us, never against us, and he WILL win! Don’t cancel your 2021 subscription–instead let’s put some perspective and purpose into 2021. As Christians, let’s make it a year of being set apart, rather than blended in. Let’s be sure they know us for our faith and love!
Footnote: A year ago today, Nick Edwards challenged us in a staff meeting to put the following prompt in our calendar, and date it to remind us on January 11, 2021: ” What am I praying for and what am I trusting God for?” This reminder popped up on my phone as I was proofreading this Devo. I couldn’t resist sharing this with you. I am guessing my answer on January 11, 2020 was quite different from my answer today. Perspective on the journey. I am going to reset that reminder for January 11, 2022. I will get back to you in a year!