Try to see things more and more from My perspective. Let the light of My presence so fully fill your mind that you view the world through Me. When little things don't go as you had hoped, look to Me lightheartedly and say, "Oh, well." This simple discipline can protect you from being burdened with an accumulation of petty cares and frustrations.
- Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
I can almost hear her as if she was in the next room, my Grandma, that saucy, say-it-like-it-is role model for my life. Every once in awhile she would stop in her tracks, sigh, look up and talk to God out loud and say, with a highly exasperated tone of voice, "Lord, what is this world coming to?" My Grandma Florence had a very clear vision of how things were supposed to be and how people were supposed to behave and when things appeared "upside down," as she used to call it, it was clear that her frustration had reached a point of no return. She was letting us know that behavior and decorum had reached such a new low that she could hardly stand it. What were we coming to? Where had the old values gone? How had things reached this new low?
I remember now that even though I found her exasperation a bit dramatic as I grew up, that you didn't argue with Grandma nor try to explain that cultures change, people act differently, things now just weren't the same as when she grew up. What she called, "old-fashioned values"seemed to her to be sliding down the hill, perhaps never to be heard from again. And when I would hear her exclaim, "What is this world coming to?", with anguish and pain in her voice, I thought to myself that she was just too old school and a bit overly dramatic. I remember promising myself that when I got to be her age (she was in her 60s then) I wouldn't be so old-fashioned. I wouldn't be caught dead howling into the air my high pitched distain for those young people and their misplaced values.
Well truth be told, I was wrong. I owe my Grandma a big apology. I now get it.
Some days I can barely listen to the news without feeling like this world has gone crazy and that the bar of what is good and decent in human behavior has slipped to such a low that I want to cover my grandchildren's ears so this new low doesn't impact them and taint their view of the world.
Yet truthfully, some of those "upside down issues" I get howling about these days are, on a scale of one to ten (ten being of high importance), a one or a two. Sometimes I get ranting about little things in life that I can't control. Can I hear an "Amen" on this ? When certain things don't go as I had hoped, I can, in an instant, make truly small things into bigger things. I can waste time and energy with the small shoulda couldas. I forget to see those "problems through the eyes of Jesus" and what matters to Him." I find it difficult to look at the little things and say"Oh well. This didn't go as I had hoped." Sadly, viewing small things "lightheartedly" has not been a strength of mine. It's very easy for me to dwell on little things and make them major things and not see them as God sees them. I don't think I'm alone in struggling with this.
However, not everything is small. There are more serious Upside Down issues that seem to warrant my time, thought and attention. They speak to the core of who we are, how we live our lives and the kinds of role models we are for young people today.
What am I referring to? Here are just a few of the bigger "upside down" things that make we want to sit right down with Jesus this morning and apologize for the mess we are all in.
1) The entire Ray Rice domestic violence issue: How totally sad, how awful that this young man made this choice. And how sad that his then fiance didn't see that they both got help before she married him. And then the whole rash of other football issues dealing with domestic violence and child abuse. One football player smashing his wife in the face because she didn't want to have sex with him. Yuk! How sad for everyone involved. How sad that it took an uproar of public opinion to get the NFL to do something. Domestic violence hits every culture and every economic level. It isn't new, yet hearing about it daily makes me think we are all a mess.
If I reflect on the message of this morning's Jesus Calling and seeing Ray Rice, and others currently in the news, through the eyes of Jesus, what do I see?
Seen through the eyes of Jesus, I can imagine Jesus sitting down with Ray Rice and having a very hard, heart-to-heart talk, just like He did with the woman at the well. I can imagine Him talking to Ray with compassion and saying "Go and sin no more." I can imagine Jesus telling Ray that the children of God, sadly, all do hurt and violence to each other. We, as His children, are all sinners and broken, so broken. I imagine Jesus not for one minute condoning what Ray did, but also seeing him as a very broken young man who is so, so off track and lost and needing help. Lots of help. What I LOVE about my Jesus is that Ray Rice would be exactly the kind of lost soul He would seek out, the kind of hurt man He would hold. The kind of sinner Jesus came to save, not reject. True the world, in some very serious issues, feels upside down and it's so sad to see and hear about the hurt that we who are so lost inflict on each other.
Yet what I know for sure is that Jesus embraces us, seeks us out
and loves us, even when we are at our very worst.
2) For me, another upside down mess is the latest Jennifer Lopez video where she is singing about and displaying her "booty" in public. Okay, I have lost my mind with this. What I see as very poor taste, I imagine Jesus would also not be happy about. But perhaps, if I look at this upside down mess through the eyes of Jesus, my sense of indignation would at least have an edge of compassion for how lost J-Lo must truly be. Jesus would not exclude Jennifer, but hold out the gift of His salvation to help her hurting heart. No matter what Jennifer does, she is a child of God. I may not like the video she made, but I hope I remember clearly that just as Jesus loves me, He also loves her.
Jesus Calling also goes on to say, "If you practice this diligently (seeing things more from My perspective) you will make a life-changing discovery. You realize that most of the things that worry you are not important. If you shrug them off immediately and return your focus to Me, you will walk through your days with lighter steps and a joyful heart. When serious problems come your way, you will have more reserves for dealing with them.
I think my "life-lesson" this morning is to let go of the small and meaningless issues that are just not important. They are in fact small irritations. Seen through the eyes of my Savior, they deserve an "Oh well" and then let them go. Don't hold on to anger and irritation about things that truly don't matter.
And when things do matter, and they seem so "upside down"
that I can barely stand it, my life lesson is to also see those things through the eyes of Jesus. The Jesus who stood his ground about what was right and what was wrong. The Jesus who showed compassion, especially to all of us who make BIG mistakes. To see Ray Rice as a lost child of God and pray for Him. To pray for Jennifer Lopez that she might know God's love and attention for her so clearly that she feels no need to make a video like this. And to be grateful, truly grateful, for the compassion Jesus has shown to me when I make horrible mistakes. To be grateful, truly grateful, for the hard talks Jesus has had with me. The "get it together, Linda" moments that have not been easy to listen to. The mix of hard truth and loving compassion I get from Jesus has been soul-saving for me.
Bottom line, I want to let the light of God's presence so fully fill my mind that I view the world through Him, the God that I know and love and serve.
I also want to keep my eyes on Jesus, on all the good news that is right-side up (more on this in my next post :), and keep my focus and attention on those who are kind, loving, show gratitude and are teaching me to "walk like Jesus walked and talk like Jesus talked." And finally, when we all stumble and make a mess of things, and we all do, I want to show compassion and be less judgmental and more prayerful and loving.
Planting a seed is believing in tomorrow . ...