A lot of times, getting to cruising altitude is rough for me and I get nauseous. I have to focus on breathing, turn on the cool air vent and sit very still. But finally, the plane is up, up in the air, and everything down, down is small, and I am at peace. My troubles and trials are hidden among the trees. They are small in comparison to seeing the whole city.
I have perspective.
That big hill in my neighborhood is still my nemesis. Each day that I go to walk, I try to talk myself out of going up it. But I go anyway. And sometimes getting to the top is rough -- my legs hurt, my breathing is labored. But finally, when I am up, up at the top, and everything down, down is smaller, I am at peace. I look around, and see my troubles and trials are hidden among the trees. They are small in comparison to seeing the whole neighborhood. I have perspective.
The thing about being on the top is that I can't just show up there. It takes work to get there. There is a specific journey I have to take -- a path I have to walk, or a take-off I have to endure. Sometimes it's bumpy. Sometimes it makes me nauseous or makes it difficult to even find breath. But if I didn't struggle going up, I wouldn't appreciate the view once I got to the top. The perspective wouldn't mean as much because I didn't work hard to have it. I didn't earn it. It's like interviewing for your dream job, or winning a championship -- you try so hard and work yourself beyond measure -- and it makes you cry when you win the prize because the joy is that much sweeter.
And so it is with perspective. God takes you on a life journey that he knew about step-by-step, long before we were formed in our mother's wombs (Psalm 139:16). And there are times of health, sickness, richness, poverty, having and losing along the way. The goal isn't just to make it to the top of A Mountain. The goal is to have perspective. To realize that our journey is just that -- a journey. And that there isn't A Mountain. There are many mountains. And to get to the top of each one, you might get nauseous or sick along the way. But when you make it to cruising altitude, you get sit back, look down, and you finally see. And God reveals something beautiful and sweet to you personally, about your journey to the top. And you cry because of the fullness of joy you experience with him in that moment on that mountain.
Jesus went up mountains a lot. Most notably was his transfiguration, which was quite a journey for him and three of his closest friends. The journey really starts when he rebukes Peter and calls him Satan (Matt 16:23). Nauseous. Then Jesus predicts his own death for the first time (16:24-28). Breathless. But then, after a few days, Jesus takes Peter (the one he called Satan), James and John with him "up a high mountain by themselves" (17:1). Can you imagine how breathless and nauseous Peter felt during that walk up, wondering what could happen next? Yet when the got to the top, Jesus was "transformed before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as the light" (17:2). In that moment, on that mountain, they really, finally, saw Jesus.
Abraham was called by God to take his only son to a mountain to sacrifice him there. Breathless. The Bible says it took Abraham and Isaac three days to make the journey (Gen 22:4). Can you imagine how nauseous Abraham felt during that walk up Mount Moriah? I would be willing to bet you it took every step of that three day journey up the mountain for Abraham to convince himself to be obedient. Still breathless. Yet when they got to the top, God met him there. In return, Abraham named the place "The Lord Will Provide." "And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided'" (22:14). In that moment, on that mountain, Abraham saw God's provision.
People can be near-sighted or far-sighted. The old adage says "hindsight is 20/20." But what do you call it if I'm not just seeing things that are up close, or far away, or things in the past? What do you call it when God lets me see things as he might? Above-sighted? Maybe it's just perspective.
"Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner." (1 Peter 4:12-13)