The View from 1000 Feet

Altitude changes the human perspective.

Consider with me the subject of altitude, the height of an object above sea level. Sea level is the point at which the oceans exist when averaged between high and low tides. At sea level our eyes gaze at salt water and the vastness of an ocean. The Dead Sea is found at 1,312 feet below sea level. Mount Everest is 29,028 feet above the level of earth oceans. As we stand, our eye level view forms our life view. Much of how we think about life comes from our life long eye level point of view.

Every now and then it helps to have an altitude change, a physical lift above normal. Elevating our eyes with a variation of altitude can transform how we see the world. DSC_0098_1991sig

Recently, a thoughtful friend of mind invited me to fly with him. It was a small plane with four seats. They were small. He was careful in providing instructions; they included how to safely enter the cabin, buckling seatbelts and keep fresh air inside. He knew about air sickness. He did not mention it specifically. Rather, he said we would be in the air about a half hour. He knew. Before take off he said we would be flying at approximately 1000 feet in altitude. That’s 304.8 meters. Flying that day provided a fresh viewpoint of life on this earth. DSC_0103_1992sig

We flew over the community we call home. This is what the view from 1000 feet reminded me.

1.       Things I consider large on the ground become small at 1000 feet. An entire hospital fit in the viewfinder of my camera. A former workplace neatly fit in the same viewfinder.

2.       My earth-bound world is so small. At 1000 feet I could see the edge of the earth-the horizon. It was breathtaking.

3.       Hills I walk on were flattened. At eye level they cause me to breathe hard and strain my leg muscles. At 1000 feet they seemed to disappear.

4.       40 minutes later we landed. It was good to return to an eye level view of life. My stomach was queasy by then. My body is not made for extended views even at 1000 feet.DSC_0106_1975sig

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Since that beautiful afternoon above earth my mind has been on the “view at 1000 feet.”  

Another way of expressing the 4 statements above:  we see dimly. This is not my attempt to insult you. But, the truth is, our view of life and the world is shaped by a limited set of experiences.

We attempt to understand the trouble and heartache of this world from a small vantage point. It’s what we have. From this view, life often does not make sense, even from 1000 feet.

God sees the view from eternity.

While life viewed from our standpoint is limited, God sees all of life. He sees all of eternity. He sees the past and present. He sees far beyond the edge of the earth. With his eternity view he flattens the hills. No problem we have is too big for him. He knows about murder, sickness and deep human heart ache. He sees all with a view of eternity. He has made our hearts with a God shaped space for him. We live our lives with a limited human eye level view. There are hundreds of things we will never understand while we live on earth. God understands them all. Only he has the view of eternity.

In the Bible, God tells us this about his view of eternity. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

When your view of life and earth gives no answers, change your altitude.  Lift your eyes to God. Trust his power. Only God sees eternity. When life trials overwhelm and despair comes, tell God. He hears you. He loves you.DSC_0120_1976sig

Goodness

Goodness has many aspects.

One of them is delightful. The change of seasons is good, actually delightful. Instead of being vertically oriented to the sun, the earth is tilted at 23.44 degrees toward the ecliptic of the sun. This also orients the earth to appear to move around the North Star. It is this slight tip from vertical which produces seasonal change. As the earth moves about the sun during the year, it causes seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres. For the northern hemisphere spring is the time when axial tilt moves the northern half of earth slightly closer to the radiant energy of the sun.DSC_0084_1920sig

Many things occur all because of this slight tip away from vertical. The season changes. Temperatures warm, snow melts, sap flows, plants begin growing, migration begins. These are big things. Little things are just as amazing. These are a part of the goodness of earth inhabitation.DSC_0081_1919sig

The little things of spring are part of what is splendid. As the northward movement of solar radiation increases snow melts. It begins on the south edges of the land. Snow melts from the base of tree trunks as solar power warms them. Because of increasing solar heat on the earth snow on the ground begins. Early snow melt creates intense beauty, excellent, superior, and splendid beauty. Lace like and crystal-clear ice compositions are formed. Framing the earth below, creating a crystal canopy, they change every day. They disappear in days.DSC_0058_1911sig

These little things reveal goodness. We seldom give them a second look. They teach us about goodness.

Another aspect of goodness is reliable. You can depend on it.  The goodness on my mind now is one which never fails. This goodness is completely, steadfast and always dependable.

This goodness is blameless. Before time began this goodness has been perfect. Into everlasting eternity this goodness will be faultless, impeccable, without flaw. That’s forever.DSC_0052_1908sig

We know that no human goodness could ever equal a goodness like this.

God is good. He is beyond our comprehension good. Read what He tells us about his goodness.

How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. Psalm 31:19

Do you see the word stored? God goodness beyond understanding. Stored means stockpiled in God’s warehouse. How big is that? How much is that?

Who is God’s goodness for?

You…me.

Read again how you receive it…come.

Spring reminds me of goodness, seen and stored.DSC_0043_1904sig

Done For You

How do you feel when someone asks you, “What do you want me to do for you?” Do you break out a broad smile? Are you shocked? Possibly the cynic in you thinks, “finally.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” It’s like a signed blank check. It’s like someone opening a bank account-with your name on it. It’s not an everyday experience.

Hearing those words may leave you momentarily speechless. But in those moments without words you are already thinking of what you want

By know you may be thinking, “This is not as good as it seems. When someone says something like this there are limitations.

What if there were no limitations? What if the person asking you really meant it? The word “What?”  is open ended

What if that someone was God?

He has already asked it of you. There was a blind man. He was sitting by the road. Jesus was walking on it. The blind man shouted for Jesus to have mercy on him. Jesus asked him, “What is it you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51) The man asked for his sight. Jesus gave it to him

But you say, “Jesus does not ask me what I want him to do for me.”

Are you sure? He has already “done” for you. You and I did not need to ask.

He wore a crown of thorns. He died on the cross. He said, “It is finished.”

“Finished” it’sDSC_0030_1658sig another word for do.

 

“The Lost Chord”

Once in a while do you find yourself longing for something wonderful? You cannot find words to express it. But once in a while, when you are still, when you cease and all is quiet, deep inside you feel lonesome for a wonderful you cannot identify.

 

Hidden in our souls we know, whether we vocalize it or not, we were created for eternity. That wonderful we cannot explain is our longing for heaven. In heaven there is a harmony we will never find on earth. That harmony is God, three in one. His peace is eternal harmony. His love is right, just and unending. He wraps His arms of love around us creating wonder and perfect unity. It’s heaven. Wonderful forever.

May the “Lost Chord” provide you a foretaste of what is to come. It is what we long for when we are still.

“The Lost Chord”  Adelaide Anne Proctor (1825-1864

Seated one day at the organ,

I was weary and ill at ease,

And my fingers wandered idly

Over the noisy keys.

 

I do not know what I was playing,

Or what I was dreaming then;

But I struck one chord of music,

Like the sound of a great Amen.

 

It flooded the crimson twilight,

Like the close of an angel’s psalm,

And it lay on my fevered spirit

With a touch of infinite calm.

 

It quieted pain and sorrow,

Like love overcoming strife;

It seemed the harmonious echo

From our discordant life.

 

It linked all perplexed meanings

Into one perfect peace,

And it trembled away into silence

As if it were loath to cease.

 

I have sought but I seek it vainly,

That one lost chord divine,

Which came from the soul of the organ,

And entered into mine.

 

It may be that death’s bright angel

Will speak in that chord again-

It may be that only in heaven.

I shall hear that Grand Amen.

Made for Communion

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Cedar Waxwing, bird of community.

It benefits from kinship.

A passerine whose identity is communal.

See one, the flock is near.

Frugivorous, palate for fruit.

Black mask shields the eye,

Cedar Waxwings, made to live,

in concert with others.DSC_0156_1049sig

Humans live in community

in cities, suburbs, and towns.

We benefit from kinship.

We bear one another’s burdens.

Humans, see one, more are near.

Humans-made by God.

Made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27)

Like Cedar Waxwings,

Crafted by God for communion with God.

Everlasting God, Creator of the Universe,

wants you to walk with him,

talk with him.

He loves you.DSC_0142sig

Black and White

Black and White…

Black…dark, shadowy, dim…

Light reversed.

White…snowy, bleached, hoary…

Black vanished.

Black-dark; white-light,

Opposites.

In combination, striking.

Attention arresting.DSC_0172_1056sig.jpg

Black and White

Sin filled me…flawed, error prone, easily angered

Sin less Jesus

…perfect Man, patient, loving, Savior

Sinful me? Condemned…

Jesus-condemnation remover

It’s Black and White…

Sinner forgiven…life everlasting.

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This is truth in black and white.

While Chickadees Flew Overhead

A man I respected once explained what goodness is. He said, “Goodness is when everything is just right.” When everything is just right in nature things are beautiful and serene. Experience this once and you will desire the experience again. This kind of goodness we seek.

Where does the goodness and serenity of nature come from? Try this explanation. The peace and serenity humans delight to find in nature comes from the Sovereign presence of God. Can this be the explanation for the bliss humans feel when outside? It not only can, but is the reason we delight in a sunrise or sunset. It’s why we are awed at a rainbow or the mirror images on the surface of an entirely calm lake. It is a distinct pleasure to experience the sovereignty of God.

Sovereign means supreme, absolute, matchless. God is all of this. God is infinitely endlessly more. He is the author of the serenity and peace found in nature. His infinite nature instills an endless fascination and awe in the place beyond the current building you are in. He is the final authority, no one is greater. Because He is Sovereign, his presence is everywhere; especially in nature. It inspires the awe in us. This fact often escapes ultra-busy human beings.

You want this serenity. To understand why and see the sovereign presence of God, take a child outside. The best age is under three. My 20-month granddaughter demonstrated this to me recently. There is a coulee (deep valley) in their backyard. This little girl delights in this place. We sat together on the ground near the top multiple times. She was enchanted with the chickadees flying in the trees overhead. The first time we went I said, “shh,” she became still, reverently still. While I delight in the quietness and beauty of that place, watching my granddaughter enjoy it was a greater delight. It is not an accident, this quiet stillness from a 20-month old. We did this two more times; her response was always quiet, reverent awe. She’s 20 months old! Can you imagine a 20-month old sitting still, for even 2 minutes?

Jeremiah must have sat on the edge of a coulee. He sensed “everything being just right.” He wrote, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17)

 Just one more truth needs to be expressed here. Sovereign God, Creator of all life and the peace and serenity of nature loves you. Remember, nothing is too hard for Him. Sit in a place where chickadees fly overhead. If possible, take a little child. Know God’s “everything is just right” is for you.DSC_0060_785sig