A Fresh Perspective

perception, blessings, thankfulnessThese days I make it a habit to stop by my favorite coffee shop at least once a week on my way to work.  The coffee is excellent, the service is friendly and I can pick up a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans while I am there.  For a coffee lover such as myself, it’s a great place to shop and that has as much to do with the product they sell as it does with the people who work there.

During my visit this past week, one of the regular employees opened the door for me as I entered the building.  As he opened the door he said, “Hey Matthew!” which was not only nice and appreciated but also quite surprising in that he remembered my name.  After I concluded my business at the counter I walked over to where he was working (he was in the process of roasting a fresh batch of beans which not only smelled amazing it was quite fascinating to watch) and struck up a conversation with him.

It turns out that he remembered me not only because I am a frequent customer but also because I drive my Mazda MX-5 Miata to work and he, being a fan who was thinking of purchasing one in the future, had noticed it.  Of course any time someone wants to talk cars I am more than happy to oblige in that conversation, being an enthusiast myself.  And the fact that this happened inside my favorite coffee shop with a fresh cup in my hand just made it all the better.  Here were two of my favorite things happening at the same time in the same place and I remember being very happy and thankful for the encounter.

We spoke for just a few minutes about the Miata and why he liked them and I have to say his enthusiasm was catching.  I walked back out to my car at the conclusion of the conversation with a big smile on my face, not only because I enjoyed the chat, but because it allowed me to see the Miata with a fresh perspective.  All of a sudden, I remembered all of the reasons that I had sought the Miata out and it was like I was sitting in it again for the first time and appreciating what a fun and and interesting car that it really is.  Seeing the car through someone else’s eyes and listening to their enthusiasm for it helped to rekindle my own.

Later that day, as I was thinking back on my experience, the Lord brought something to my mind.  It is part of our nature as human beings to take good things for granted once we become accustomed to them.  We do this not only to material possessions  (like I did with my car) but also to our relationships with the people around us.  And then there is that most important relationship, the one between us and God, that I fear we also tend to take for granted.

I know that I do, if I am not careful.  Unless I am vigilant I tend to take so many of the blessings in my life for granted and I know that it’s easy to just skim the surface of how awesome our God really is and all that He has done for us.  I know that unless I take the time to slow down and ask Him to give me a fresh perspective on who He is that I am likely to miss much of who He is and what He is doing.

For that reason, my prayer lately has been that God would allow my heart to grow and my spiritual eyesight to sharpen so that I might better perceive Him and His handiwork.  I want to know Him better and to be a better friend to Him because He has been such a great friend to me.  I can see how I was beginning to take some things for granted and I am so glad that God loves me enough to correct me and to show me a better way.

Sometimes, it takes an object lesson from life experience in order for God to teach us something.  Our responsibility is to be teachable and to be listening for when and how He speaks.  God is so amazing that He can use seemingly normal, everyday circumstances in order to reveal Himself to us.  My prayer is that we would be on the lookout for Him and be actively seeking to know Him better through it all.



We Are Temporary, We Are Eternal

eternal, temporary, good worksAs I looked out the window this morning, the sky immediately caught my attention.  Higher up and farther in the distance I could see clear, blue sky with a few fluffy, white clouds.  As I focused on that which was far off, I noticed how beautiful a scene it was and that I was grateful for the coming day and for God’s creation.  Continuing in my study of the sky I could see that closer to me and lower in the sky, dark storm clouds had gathered and, depending on where I focused, they sometimes completely obscured the clear blue sky that was beyond.  And soon enough, the dark clouds opened and it began to rain.

As the rain started, everything turned grey and visibility out my window was quickly reduced.  Within moments I could no longer see the blue sky in the distance but only a hazy grey curtain of falling water.  My attention was now completely focused on the downpour and it didn’t take very long for me to completely forget about the beautiful picture I had witnessed earlier and the clear, blue sky and white fluffy clouds that awaited me in the distance.

And it’s only now, when I’ve had some time to sit down and think, that I realize the significance of what I saw.  God has given me eyes to see the multitude of blessings that He has bestowed upon me and upon this world.  He has given me physical eyes to see the beauty of his creation and spiritual eyes to perceive the eternity that waits for me.  I am so blessed; we are so blessed, to be called Children of God!

But, as I go, do I choose to focus on the circumstances and the storm that is close around me or do I choose to see that which lies beyond?  Am I a person of the here and now or a person who, by his actions, chooses to have eternal significance through the power of the Holy Spirit?  This is a choice that has to be made every day and, sometimes, on a moment by moment basis.

That which is eternal versus that which is temporary and the consequences to each is something that we all have to face.  This is the dichotomy (a big word that means a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different) of our existence; that we occupy a specific space and time within temporary bodies and have relatively short life-spans while also possessing eternal souls that will last forever.  We are temporary and transient yet we are also eternal.

How do we best reconcile those two, completely different natures?  How can we live as eternal beings while still residing in temporary bodies?  Is it even possible to do so?

Yes, it is possible and we have actually been given all of the tools that we need to do so if we will follow the instructions that God has given us in His word.  Only by living our lives in accordance with God’s word can we make a difference in this temporary world while also having eternal significance.  Although our residence here on earth is temporary, God asks us to be involved and to love His creation and to always, with everything that we do, acknowledge Him and give Him glory and honor.  If we do this then we take that which is temporary and we give it eternal significance by offering it up to the Father, in Jesus’ name.  A kindness that we bestow on someone today, although we may forget it by tomorrow, will be written in the annals of heaven and celebrated and we will be rewarded for those deeds by the Father, in due time.

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:31-40 (NIV)