Points to Ponder: In a Storm? Get Some Altitude

Points to Ponder
In a Storm? Get Some Altitude
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore

You have heard the expression, "can't see the forest for the trees." It describes being so close to a situation or certain aspects of it, that one fails to see the big picture. I'd like to coin another expression: "get some altitude." In other words, rise above it so you can gain a perspective that encompasses the details but is not hindered (or deceived) by them.
Bill Hybels, author and pastor of Willow Creek Church in Barrington, Illinois has both flown and sailed across Lake Michigan. It is about 100 miles across. When he sails his boat from one side to the other, he sometimes encounters terrific storms and rough water. It can be quite frightening, to the point of thinking you could lose it all.
But when Hybels recalls the time he's flown a small private plane high above the lake, he remembers what it is like to see the storm from a higher perspective. The boat trip involves hours of piloting and maneuvering the craft through treacherous waves; but up above, the plane ride takes just several minutes. When you see the turbulent waters below from that vantage point, the view of the "big picture" helps to put the challenging journey in perspective.
When Bill Hybels is sailing through a storm on Lake Michigan, he recalls that view from up above and he uses that perspective to help him see what he is really up against. The scenario is no less dangerous because he takes that higher view, but perspective is sometimes all you need to see what you are really facing.
What you are really up against in the storms along the way is not that specific obstacle; it is the reaction within you to it. Often, our toughest enemy, or our weakest friend, is our self. Now, if that is happening within you as you face certain issues; is it not also true of others around you? How often has your perspective of a challenging situation led you, or your church leaders, to respond with good intentions but with ungodly motives?
Timothy was a young pastor in a challenging church. Paul reminded him of his "genuine faith" which he cultivated as the child of a godly mother and grandmother. But the pressure of false teachers outside the church and divisive individuals within it, perhaps, was getting him down. Paul says God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
He is telling Timothy to rise above the circumstances. Get some altitude; see it from Heaven's perspective. The fear with which you are responding to this situation is not from God. He did not give you that. Having good sense and discernment are given by God, but a perspective of fear is not from Him.
How many churches won't invest in missions because of fear? How many operate pledge campaigns, fundraisers, and the annual budget from a spirit of fearful dread of what could happen?
Paul tells Timothy to reflect on the great faith heritage he knew and received in the two most important women in his young life (v.5) and then look at the matter from the perspective of the One who gave him his ministry and the spiritual gifts to perform it (v.6). God's gift to His leaders and workers are gifts of power and of love, and of sound mind. (v7b).
Gifts. That means you do not come naturally equipped for the spiritual issues and decisions you will face. The power, the love, the good judgment of a sound mind comes from above. God will not allow you to face a trial or a challenge without equipping you to handle it. But you've got to get some altitude, rise up above the fray and see it as it is. For such a time as this you are there, wherever "there" happens to be at the moment.
If you are God's man or God's woman, your first duty is to glorify Him with your life and in how you conduct yourself. He gives you both the perspective from which to see the thing, and the ability to prevail in it. If you rely on your fear or a self-centered perspective to motivate your actions, then God is not in it. Sooner or later you will know it too.
Unfortunately a lot of Christians are carnal in their thinking and immature. The wind and the waves of the current storm has grasped their attention so tightly that they can not even tell their good intentions will either run the ship aground-or sink it.
Get some altitude. Watch and pray for Heaven's perspective. Do not move in any direction if it is the spirit of fear compelling you-that's not from God. God will not allow you to enter into a trial or temptation, or challenging situation without providing the way through it. (See I Corinthians 10:13).
Remember those powerful words of scripture: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" says the Lord of Hosts" (Zechariah 4:6b NKJV)

This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.