I just wrote for the newsletter cover this week. I used the brain cells I typically devote to blogging to write it, so I am sharing it here as well!
One of the ways that God seems to get my attention is by repetition. Whenever something repeats itself within a short time frame, like a verse of scripture, a topic of conversation, similar topics in different religious periodicals, I take that as an indication that God is trying to tell me something.
This week, I think God has been trying to get me to think about perspective… which also happens to be a very appropriate topic for the month of November and Thanksgiving.
As I trying to catch up on some back issues of Christian Century magazine, I came across an article about a good death. I thought about how, when I reach the end of my life, I hope that I will find that I can truly rest in peace, knowing that I have lived faithfully and cared about things that really matter. I read another devotional that reminded me of the same subject. Then I had the privilege of leading the memorial service for Carl Davis' mother Lib Davis. Funerals are always good for gaining perspective. Annoyances, challenges, concerns, problems… how many of them will really matter in a year? Over a lifetime? Not many.
When I was driving with my kids last week, "Keep on the Sunny Side" was on the radio. Shannon announced that she did not like the sunny side. It took me a moment to understand that she meant she does not like the sun in her eyes! I explained that the sunny side also refers to the happy side. I was not sure she understood the concept. Then four days later, she announced to me "Mommy, I do keep on the happy side. I keep on God's side."
That is really what it is all about. When thinking about what really matters, most things fall away. But when the end comes, I want to be able to look back on my life and be able to say I followed Jesus, lived deeply, cared about things that really matter, and loved God and others with my whole being.
This is the perspective that keeps me focused. Gratitude is the thing that helps me keep this perspective.
I always think of a sociological study I learned about in college. Three groups of soldiers were studied during the Vietnam war. One group was stationed in the U.S., one in Europe, and one on the battlefield of Vietnam. The sociologists hypothesized that the soldiers in the U.S. would be happiest, followed by the ones in Europe, and that the ones stationed in the war zone would be most unhappy. What they found was the opposite. The soldiers in Vietnam reported they were most happy, and the soldiers in the U.S. the least. Why? It was a matter of perspective. The soldiers in Vietnam were comparing themselves to their dead friends. They were happy to be alive. The soldiers in the U.S. were comparing themselves to their friends who were not in the military, and were miserable. Perspective matters.
So, I am grateful to be alive, to know and serve my Savior, to have a family, a church family, food to eat, a warm beautiful house, clothes to wear, and good health. I remind myself often that thousands of people die every day for lack of basic necessities, and thousands more die having had only half-lived lives, never knowing the love, hope, and purpose offered by God through Jesus Christ.
God's mission entrusted to the Church is to invite people who do not know God through Jesus Christ into a whole new perspective- indeed a whole new life. I cannot imagine a more sacred or wonderful gift and responsibility.