Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Crash Course in Perspective

About a month ago, my dad came into the kitchen and poured some water into a glass. He then called my sisters in one at a time and asked them a simple question, "Is this glass half full or half empty?"

The first walked in, studied the glass for a minute and replied, "It's half empty."

The second one walked in and promptly answered, "It's half full." But then she stopped and her eyes grew wide. "Wait a minute!" She ran to tell my other sister, "It's both!"

I couldn't help smiling at this exchange, that my sisters so innocently illustrated the point of the "glass half full/half empty" analogy. It all depends on your perspective.

The idea of perception and perspective has been on my mind quite often recently. Much of it is related to several life circumstances where emotions tend to run very high and where trusting God in uncharted territory might be difficult.

I can't see past my own nose sometimes. In the midst the unknown, I want so much to be in control. I focus only on the here and now, and the narrower my perceptions become, the less room there is for God and His ever-working hand.

I think what I've been experiencing is much like a roller coaster. To the observer, roller coasters never appear to be moving very fast. The drops do not seem as steep. Take a step back and you can see the ride as a whole in relation to everything around it. It always ends by coming safely into the station. Riding a roller coaster is a very different experience, though. Every turn is unexpected, every drop is terrifying. We see only a few feet of track ahead of us, nothing more.

And so I come to today's quote. It's actually an entire poem, written by Corrie Ten Boom, expressing the difference between our perspective in the midst of life and God's perspective, who sees the entire sprawling plan of history as one coherent picture.  

My life is but a weaving 
Between my God and me. 
I cannot choose the colors 
He weaveth steadily. 
Oft' times He weaveth sorrow; 
And I in foolish pride 
Forget He sees the upper 
And I the underside. 
Not 'til the loom is silent 
And the shuttles cease to fly 
Will God unroll the canvas 
And reveal the reason why. 
The dark threads are as needful 
In the weaver's skillful hand 
As the threads of gold and silver 
In the pattern He has planned 
He knows, He loves, He cares; 
Nothing this truth can dim. 
He gives the very best to those 
Who leave the choice to Him.

I forget that God sees everything, that His plan has already been written. It's like Philip Yancey's book, Where is God When it Hurts? 

In the last chapter, he says, "You can go to a ten-foot blackboard and draw a line from one side to another. Then, make a one-inch dot in that line. That dot, to a microscopic germ cell undulating in its midst, would seem enormous. The cell could spend its lifetime exploring the dot. But if you, a human, step back to view the entire blackboard, you'll be struck by the hugeness of the ten-foot line compared to the tiny dot the germ cell calls home."

We are all like that germ cell. When I question God's reasons for the circumstances in my life, it is not because He ought to be questioned, but because I am not looking at things with the right perspective. Just today, a friend of mine mentioned the Casting Crowns song "Already There," and I think it is very fitting: "When I'm lost in the mystery, to You my future is a memory, cause You're already there..."

How has my life become a crash course in perspective? I think it is the tough circumstances, or those that may not be tough, just uncertain, that remind me who I am and who God is. It is enough for me to know that we see "in a mirror dimly," and not expect to see more, not yet. I can be content, as one bound by time and space, to rest with confidence in the care of One who is bound by neither. 

For this reason, when someone asks me if the glass is half empty or half full, I ought to instead respond with David, "My cup overflows." And this, because God is the One who fills it.