Summary: What shapes your perspective on life? What should? The Word of God must be the primary perspective-shaper in the life of a believer.

The Forest for the Trees

TCF Sermon

October 26, 2008

When Barb and I were on vacation in August, we took several hikes in the mountains of Colorado. And yes, this is a good excuse for me to show you some vacation pictures, but I hope it turns into more than that before this morning’s message is over.

One day, in Rocky Mountain National Park, we hiked up a trail toward Bierstadt Lake. Before we went on the hike, we read a guide which said that the hike was a little under 3 miles roundtrip. When we got to the trailhead, we looked up at a pretty steep mountain. But we were up for that hike, and wanted to get to the lake.

What we didn’t know was how much elevation we’d gain. One way to the lake was about a mile and a half, and it turned out that the last part of the hike was at the top on fairly level ground through a forest, and I’d guess maybe about half to ¾ of a mile. That meant the uphill part was about a little less than half of the hike. But how many feet we went up, we didn’t know.

What we learned quickly, as we began the trail, is that we had to stop to catch our breath several times on the way up. The hiking trail was switchbacks on the side of a mountain, and the view got more spectacular as we went up, but the trail got more and more challenging. Of course, we weren’t only hiking a flat surface, but we were going pretty close to a 45-50 degree angle upward, and since we started at almost 9,000 feet, the air was already pretty thin.

This was after several days at elevation, so we’d probably adjusted fairly well. Anyway, we get to the top and we’re way up there. These pictures don’t do it justice – don’t really give a good perspective of how high it felt. I said to Barb, after we got to the top, “I’ll bet we climbed at least 1,000 feet, maybe 1,500.” At least that’s how my legs and my lungs felt.

So we finish the hike to the lake, take some pictures, and hike back down rather quickly in advance of a thunderstorm coming over the mountain. Yes, it was much quicker and easier going down.

We get back to our room in Estes Park and I get online and look up the trail on a website. You know how many feet of elevation we gained? 556. From my perspective, we’d hiked up a lot higher than that. But in reality it was only 556 feet. I quickly realized that my ability to judge elevation wasn’t very good. In fact, I wasn’t even close to guessing the right amount we’d hiked up.

I got to thinking about how difficult it is to have a right perspective about some things. So much of how we view life depends completely on our perspective:

Here are some things that depend on your perspective:

Cloudy day vs sunny day – that depends on where you are. If you’re in Boston, it may be cloudy – in Tulsa it may be sunny on the same day.

Too hot – too cold – my wife and I still have different perspectives on that.

Too old – too young. When you’re 35, you’re young to most of the world, but you’re an old man if you play pro football.

How about the moon, the sun and the stars. We can’t go outside right now and see the stars, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. The sunshine, the daylight, changes our perspective on the stars.

It’s nighttime right now where the Niles are. It’s daytime here. Your perspective of day vs night depends entirely on whether you’re in Japan or Tulsa.

How about the old adage: “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Hopefully this message isn’t already too long for you.

Those of you in college may remember the old “blue book” test. Often in these essays, we were asked to compare and contrast something. That’s a process that helps to give perspective. But sometimes perspective isn’t just a matter of where you are. Sometimes it’s just plain right or wrong, and we don’t have enough information, or perhaps we have wrongly interpreted what information we do have, and end up with a wrong perspective.

Our perspective is often skewed and inaccurate. We experience something, like fatigue and shortness of breath on a mountain hike, and think we’re climbing a lot higher than we really are.

What did it take to give me a correct perspective? I had to seek a source outside myself. I had to find a resource that presented a true picture, based on reality, based on fact.

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