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Differing Vantage Points Offer Insight, Illumination

Our daughter was in the midst of building a house on a hilltop near Clemson, S.C. As I flew south out of the Greenville-Spartanburg airport, I was able to spot her house from the plane.
My husband and I spent much time at her house as it was going up, but the perspective of it from the plane was entirely different.

I always enjoy the window seat on a plane, perhaps because I enjoy maps and I like to try to figure where we are and what I am seeing.

Looking down on those tiny cars whose occupants may be looking up at what appears to be a tiny plane in the sky is also an exercise in appreciating different perspectives.

One way to look at dissimilar perspectives is to contrast how our priorities and choices appear from a heavenly viewpoint.

God must grieve at our picayune prejudices and petty pretenses in the light of what we are called to do as believers.

Jesus charged us to a higher calling with eternal importance, but we tend to squander away our energy and discipline with meaningless meanderings and fruitless fritterings.

Another aspect of different perspectives has been sharpened for me because that same daughter has spent time in the past year in four cultures that are very diverse, both from one another and from her southern American background: camps in Russia, Turkey, South Africa and Nigeria.

In each of those experiences, as a university professor and camp professional, she has encountered situations where her perspective has been different from those with whom she was working.

Her respect for and sensitivity to other cultures and perspectives have been shared with us and enriched us as well.

We tend to consider our ways of thinking and acting (or reacting) to others or to situations as the “proper” way to do so. Especially in the south, we learned a certain way of doing things that was considered “The Way” to do things.

And those who did those same things in a different way simply weren’t taught correctly.

When our narrow way of thinking becomes something that keeps us from loving as we have been loved, from forgiving as we have been forgiven, from giving as we have been given, we have lost our sense of God’s perspective.

We are missing the opportunities that God has placed before us to be conduits of God’s love and forgiveness.

We are called to be diligent in sharing our faith and using the gifts we have been given to honor the one who gave them to us in obedience to Jesus’ command to love God above all and to love our neighbors, both near and far, as ourselves.

As I flew over our daughter’s home that day, I couldn’t see how carefully her skillful carpenters were working or how precisely the electrician was wiring her home.

But I knew that work was happening because I knew the integrity of those workers.

If they looked up and saw or heard the plane that afternoon, they were more than likely not aware that someone was looking down on them or who was on the plane.

Our perspectives were different. They continued their work and I continued on my way to my meeting.

We both had responsibilities and the means to fulfill those responsibilities, even though our perspectives differed.

Sara Powell is a freelance writer, former board member of the Baptist Center for EthicsĀ and former moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. She and her husband, Bill, live in Hartwell, Ga. Visit her website at LiftYourHeart.com.