Resetting My Perspective
Do you ever look around at what is going on in your life or your family or your church or your friends or your community and think, "Nothing good is coming out of this!"? Every thing seems bleak, no answers for questions and uncertainties, no "light at the end of the tunnel", so to speak. Maybe you've "messed things up" and you're feeling like there's no moving on or recovering from this mess. Maybe you just want life to get back to "normal", but no one has any real answers or, even, a clue as to what is going on and when "normal" will return.
I am reading through I Samuel right now. I came to the passage where the Israelites inform Samuel they want a king to rule over them. Samuel scolds them, informing them a king is not a good idea, giving reasons why: a king will take your family members, your crops, your livestock, demand taxes, and so on. Furthermore, he reminds them that God is their king. But, the Israelites, quite petulantly insist, declaring, "No! But, there shall be a king over us, that we may be like the other nations...." (I Samuel 8:19-20). So, Samuel goes to God. And, God comforts Samuel by explaining this is not his fault; the people are not rejecting Samuel, but God. And, God allows Saul to be anointed as their king (I Samuel 10). After this, Saul leads the people in delivering them from the Ammonites (I Samuel 11), and the people are so excited: "all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly" (11:15). Then, I came to chapter 12; in this chapter, Samuel is addressing the people- basically saying, "Goodbye" because now they are answering to King Saul instead of to him. In this speech he asks the people to judge his character to see whether or not he has lived honorably before them and before God. His character is rightly confirmed, as all the people have nothing ill to say or report about him. Samuel then goes into this discourse about the ways God has led and guided them, beginning with their slavery in and deliverance from Egypt,, then of their deliverance from the hand of Sisera (remember Deborah and Barak), as well as from the Philistines and the king of Moab. Then, he rebukes them for, after seeing the Ammonite king wanted to destroy them, that they called for a man to deliver them... after all God had done in delivering them so many other times, the people chose instead to ask for a person. Samuel then tells them they will see the mighty hand of God to remind them of their sinful choice and God's power. Samuel prays to God and God sends a terrible storm to destroy the Israelites' wheat harvest. The people are rebuked and immediately terrified. They tell Samuel they have sinned in asking for a king. Then, instead of taking the king away or rebuking the people further, Samuel says, "Do not be afraid you have done this evil."
Wait. What?! This kind of threw me off a bit. Why did Samuel say this?
Samuel goes on to remind the people to not turn aside from following the Lord. To stop following empty things. To remember the great things God has done and to serve him faithfully. He then ends his speech by declaring that if they do not do these things, they will be "swept away" (I Samuel 12:25).
If the people acknowledged they had sinned, why did God and Samuel allow Saul to remain king? Why didn't they just take the king away? Isn't that saying that their sin was okay?
This passage has taught me these beautiful truths:
Focusing on my problems twists my perspective on God.
God sometimes allows me to make foolish decisions to teach me more about his character, namely, that he is unchanging and in control of all things (even my sinful choices!)
Instead of wallowing in my past mistakes and failures, I must repent and then serve God faithfully.
Considering the works of God keeps my perspective on him, instead of on the turmoil around me.
The Israelites focused on the people around them. This distorted their view of God. God allowed their selfish, sinful, foolish request for a king to be granted them. And, after being reminded of how much more powerful God was than Saul (after God sent that huge storm!), the people realized the foolishness of their decision. However, Samuel quickly shifted the people from their fear over their sin and foolish choice to reminding them that was the past- now, SERVE GOD. Love him with all your heart. Be faithful. Consider his works for you. Keep your focus on him, and you will not be swept away.
Wow. Isn't this so encouraging to you? Maybe you have made a foolish choice. Or maybe you are in a period of waiting or discouragement. Perhaps circumstances look bleak, and you find yourself worrying, anxious, fearful over what will happen. Maybe there's difficult relationships or uncertain medical issues. The circumstances around you seem tumultuous and overwhelming.
"Consider what great things God has done for you"!
His Words Prevail.
His Faithfulness Unmatched.
His Goodness Endures.
His Love Never Fails.
What "things" are causing you to lose perspective on God? Fears, idols of your heart, anxieties, prideful accomplishments, desires... whatever they are, God will forgive them. Whatever mistakes you have made, don't wallow there. "Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart."
A distorted focus breeds a wandering heart.
Ask God to forgive whatever wandering desires have twisted your perspective on his character and his faithful, sovereign hand in your life.
Rest in who he is.
Recount his faithfulness to you.
Remember his great love for you.
Re-align your focus.
Reset your mind and heart to consider him instead of your circumstances.
Let him alone be your hope and strength.
Look ahead to what he has promised you, remembering this:
He has not failed and never will.
Songs for Meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mFRMcolr6s