I was talking with someone today and the topic came up of how the media sources in our lives negatively shape our perspective and attitude about life. If we are not careful the focus of our lives can become limited to me. The challenge with focusing on me, is that any happiness is fleeting at best. The Bible reminds us of another perspective, the proper perspective, for the follower of Jesus.
I have been working steadily in my memorization of the Bible through Hebrews 11. The verses are not the easiest to memorize, but they definitely are some of the most influential. If you are not familiar with this chapter, it is referred to as the “Hall of Faith” in the way it presents to us faithful followers from the past to encourage our own faithfulness. I have only made it a short way through the chapter, but I have been impacted by the perspective of those that God puts before us as an example.
My focus on my most recent verse has reminded of the importance of focusing on something better than myself and living for more than the present. I often talk about driving and traffic to illustration spiritual truths. There is something that happen to us when we get into a car. I am not sure if the ability to manipulate a 1 ton vehicle inflates our value of ourselves. This often leads us to trying to teach others a lesson or prove a point, like why you should wait your turn in line. It also causes us to focus on the here and now and to forget about the potential consequences of the future.
Many years ago, I was driving a group to the men’s retreat at beautiful place outside of Marysville. We had the van filled with a great group of guys and we were heading to a great location for a couple days together studying the Bible, enjoying the facility and each other’s fellowship. It was on the way that one of the top ten greatest embarrassments happened to me because I was focusing on myself and now!
I was on a mission to get to the event. I do not remember the specifics, but driving in an area that was unknown to me, I needed to make a last-minute lane change. Well, the person whose lane I merged into was not very happy. They began to blast their horn and they kept blasting it to make the point. I do not remember my move being illegal or unsafe. They were upset. Finally, we came to a stop light, and they kept up with the horn. It was then that I failed to focus on the future by living for myself and in the now. I put the van in park, got out and walked back to the driver blasting the horn. I think the extent of my words were “What are you doing?” I got back in the van, the light changed and we drove of on our way and the person stopped the horn stuff and went their way. Imaging being a guy in the van when your pastor does just that! I had humiliated myself. Why? Because I was living in my own little bubble and living in the moment.
It reminds me of the importance of living by faith and looking forward to what the Lord has promised to us. It is this future way of thinking that influences our words and actions in the present. The writer of Hebrews has this to say about the individuals mentioned as examples for us. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13) It was their forward-looking perspective that kept them trusting and waiting upon the Lord because they were living for more thnn themselves and now!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson