If I’ve learned anything this year it’s that my perspective of my situations has more of an impact than I realized. Even as you walk through the pouring rain, you can curse the sky that you don’t have an umbrella, or you can laugh as you jump in muddy puddles, being grateful you aren’t trudging through a season of drought. I discovered a new love for my career, and I realized the impact I can have on the lives of others through my work. Instead of focusing on the difficulties inherent in my vocation, I chose to highlight the opportunities to change the world one life at a time. Perhaps it sounds a little corny, but I stopped looking at the small nuisances of life in general. And instead, I began looking at the bigger picture. I learned how to view life more regularly through a kingdom perspective. It changed everything.
This morning I read a verse in Psalms that really struck my spirit.
Psalm 143:10 NIV:
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
The level ground part. That’s what struck me. How often in life do we feel like we’re living an uphill battle? We struggle and strive to get ahead, to reach this place of fulfillment, and we oftentimes feel as if we’re trying to paddle upstream. I think about the trout that swim up waterfalls to find their mate, and while it makes for fascinating television on the Discovery channel, I don’t think we are called the same as fish are. I don’t believe God has it for us to (always) swim upstream through life. I think He desires to place our feet on level ground.
Back to the whole “kingdom” mindset, I believe this is one practice that helps us remain on the straight path, incline excluded. I believe that as we focus on our life with a kingdom perspective, we won’t feel like we’re on a treadmill that keeps increasing the grade until we’re thrown off the back-end onto our butts. But how does one get a Kingdom mindset?
Yes, there are many problems in this life that will be like a Mt. Everest we must climb, but there’s also the fact that we encounter mounds of sand that we see as insurmountable. The thing about sand is it’s here today, but gone tomorrow. The waves take it out to sea. If we can look at the sandcastles and know they’re fleeting, we’re more able to focus on the lasting castles in God’s Kingdom. What I mean is this. You can actually categorize things in your life into two categories.
Does it impact your eternity? Yes or no. Those two answers, while simple in nature, can cut down on much of the stress we experience in life. And while I know life isn’t black and white, for the most part, you can absolutely take an eternal perspective on most problems. I recently told a friend, “if you keep beating your head against the wall where you are, struggling to make things work, then perhaps God has something different in mind for you.”
This comes back to the fact that God doesn’t have for us to fight and fight to enjoy this life. As we follow His will, He places us on level ground. Things just seem more in line when you’re following what God has for you, and if you’re confused as to what that is, go back to seeing things through an eternal perspective.
Are you fighting tooth and nail to climb the corporate ladder, spending more time away from family than at home? Ask yourself why. If it’s to grow wealth you can’t take with you, then consider that relationships with your spouse and children might be more beneficial. People say all the time they’re working all that overtime for their family, but most of the time it’s really for vacations, more financial security, or stuff (sand).
Are you angry at someone for wronging you? How does what they did impact your eternity? Nothing can separate you from Christ. But your unforgiveness can make you feel distant from the Lord. It also negatively impacts the object of your anger.
We have a tendency in this world to place too much importance on things that in no way affect God’s Kingdom, and that’s fine to a degree. I mean, I really like tacos, and I know those have little to do with Heaven (although I secretly believe they’ll be there). What I’m saying is, God wants us to enjoy this life and the things that bring us happiness, but the problem comes when we place too much importance on those things.
So often we’re on uneven ground in life because we’re chasing the world and its pleasures. So often we feel it’s an uphill climb because we’re being drawn towards the idols we’ve placed (replaced God with) on the mountaintop. God’s will for you will never lead you to embrace so tightly to things that take your eyes off Him. His good spirit will lead us to even ground.
My goal for this year, just like the year before, is to shift my focus from the fleeting things of this world to His face. My goal is to release worries over the things that don’t matter, and to focus more on the things that do. It’s to seek His Word so that He can lead me to level ground. No uphill battles here, unless God’s leading me there.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on briegowen.com.
Featured Image by Martin Jernberg