Adult Discipleship Blog: Perspective

10/19/2015

Recently I had an incredible opportunity to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday in Hollywood. It was a quick trip and we had limited time to soak in as much as we could. One of the things on a small to-do list was to see the famous Hollywood Sign. There were a few minutes to spare after breakfast one morning so we decided to walk a ways in the direction we thought it might be, but saw nothing. After a little googling the next morning we realized multiple times we had actually walked past one of the best places to get a picture with it in the background. As we approached the location, and were going up the stairs my friend exclaimed, “There it is!” I could see nothing. Where she was standing (and her height in comparison to mine) gave her a different point of view. It took a little while longer for me to be in a position where I could see what she was talking about, for me to have her perspective.

Sometimes the most significant growth we experience in our spiritual lives comes when we consider another perspective. I love moments of revelation that occur when I hear a sermon or teaching on a passage of Scripture that I’ve heard many times coming from a different experience or place in someone’s life. If I allow it, I always walk away with my eyes a little wider, my heart a little more full (sometimes broken and convicted), and my mind open to a new depth of knowledge. This doesn’t necessarily mean we take that perspective, or adopt it as our own, but it can open our eyes to another point of view.

There’s a passage in Romans 9 I love. I came across it during a season in my life when I began exploring different translations of the Bible. I could spend hours getting lost in the way one translation worded a verse compared to another and it was actually Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message that caught my attention this particular time. Consider this passage from Romans 9:30-33" “How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together: "Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion, a stone you can’t get around. But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.”

How many times have we, in a moment, referred to an obstacle or unexpected circumstance as a hindrance, only to realize later that it was actually the trail marker guiding our path and aiding our journey? Perspective plays a role in all of our experiences, and oftentimes we don’t realize the gift it is unless we take a moment to consider it.

After we had our turn at being typical tourists and taking selfies (insert eye roll here) with the Hollywood Sign in the background we headed back to the hotel. As we were walking down the street—the same street we had walked the day and night before—we realized the Hollywood Sign was on a hill right in front of us! See, when we went looking for it, we were looking in the wrong direction. When it had actually been visible to us the whole time, we weren’t looking for it, or were too busy and distracted by other things to notice it. We almost missed it, and I admit I had convinced myself I would deal with it if we had to leave before being able to see it. I am so thankful for the opportunity (along with Google) to stop and consider a different point of view. My hope is that my eyes continually stay open and aware of the huge stones on our journey that shape, mold and define us as we encounter and experience God at work in and through our lives.

Stephanie Sparks
Minister of Christian Development, Huffman UMC


The Adult Discipleship Blog is produced by the North Alabama Conference Adult Discipleship Team as a way to use the depth of our United Methodist connectional relationship to resource local churches to best grow disciples and to help deepen the North Alabama Conference's connection to the vine who is Jesus Christ. (For the purpose of this blog see the post “The Power of Religion”.) Please join the conversation by adding your comment below. If you have an idea for a blog topic or would like to make a submission to the Adult Discipleship Blog please contact the Adult Discipleship Team Convenor Rev. Peter von Herrmann at peter.vonherrmann@umcna.org.


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