I have always loved roller coasters. There is something so thrilling about that initial climb to several hundred feet above the ground, followed by the screaming terror of zipping around the track at insane speeds trying to keep your lunch down. It’s an awesome experience and one that I’ve always enjoyed.
The first time I rode a real roller coaster I was in high school. My friend Paul and I had made the 12-hour trek from Salem to L.A. in order to hit one of the great ride parks in our country, Six Flags over Magic Mountain. After one run on The Demon, I was hooked! The adrenaline, the heart-pounding loops and corkscrews, the sudden stop at the end and the awesome feeling of near-flight had me coming back again and again!
There’s something cool about getting on top of each coaster, when you get a grand view of the park. From the top of a coaster, you can see all the other rides, you can see the long lines people are standing in and you can see the people beneath you who are eager to hear you scream. Being on top of the coaster gives you a view of the whole park that is unmatched!
Yesterday my wife and I spent the day in Chicago. Now that we live in a town (actually called a “village”) that’s about the same size as the housing development we moved out of when we left Salem, I especially enjoy the trips we get to make to the big city. Traverse City is a nice, quaint little town, but sometimes I just need to be around buildings taller than five stories!
Over the past year, I’ve spent a bit more time in Chicago than my wife, but I’m still getting to know the lay of the land. So when my pastor told me we could grab a reasonably priced lunch on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, I totally jumped at the chance. And sure enough, for right around $15 we enjoyed a delicious lunch with an amazing view!
It was funny being on top of all the buildings we had just been driving around minutes before. From the ground, all the nearby sky scrapers stand so tall, and it’s crazy to not be able to see a 30-story building because it’s sitting behind a 40-story building! Or sometimes, when we were on the ground we tried to get our bearings by looking for a one of the recognizable sky scrapers, but even then, the Trump Tower (1,362 feet), the Willis Tower (aka: Sears Tower, 1,451 feet) and the John Hancock Center (1,127 feet) can be blocked out by buildings 1/3 as tall.
When we finally arrived at the lunch lounge on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, we had such a view of the previously confusing and somewhat daunting landscape. From 950’ above the ground, we had a much better perspective. We could see the roads we had just driven on, we could see the park we had been taking pictures at earlier in the day and we could even see the construction that caused somer serious travel confusion a few minutes earlier. A change of perspective, changed everything.
So often you and I are living at ground level, and everything can seem big and confusing. We’re trying to turn right, but a one-way street prevents a turn. We try to move through traffic, but a construction project or a recent accident sends us on a wild detour. We’re trying to catch some sun or a gentle breeze, but a giant building blocks the heat or prevents the breeze from reaching our location. We try to see what’s ahead, but all the nearby buildings make any kind of view, impossible. From the ground, life can be very challenging.
That’s when we need a perspective change. In Jeremiah God says to the people of Israel, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Israel was in the middle of some pretty severe punishment because of the way they had turned their backs on God. For Jeremiah and the few others that were trying to follow God, the view was bleak. Other nations were taking advantage of the Jews, the Israelites were under heavy tax burdens and their children were being taken into slavery. From the ground, everything seemed hopeless.
But God doesn’t live on the ground! From God’s perspective, He had plans for Israel and Jeremiah just needed to be reminded that God was working out a different outcome for His children. God’s plans were almost impossible to see from inside the walls of Jerusalem; but they were impossible to miss from the Throne Room of Heaven.
The Overboard Life demands a 950’ perspective -- one we don’t always have! So how do we get it? We get our perspective by trusting the One who already has it. Our perspective comes from faith, not from trying to figure it all out by ourselves.
When Peter climbed out of the boat in Matthew 14, he was only seeing the wind and the waves, the boat and the other disciples. Jesus, however, was seeing all of that, plus He was seeing Peter as the leader of the church in Acts, He was seeing Peter be the first Apostle to take the Gospel to the Gentiles and He was seeing Peter lead this ragamuffin group of disciples after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. He had a 950’ perspective. So when Peter lost his faith and started sinking, Jesus rescued Him and said, “Why did you doubt?” He wasn’t just talking about the water, He was giving Peter a lesson for the future, too.
In the middle of the storm, you and I don’t have a very good perspective, so we must trust the One who sees it all. It seems that God rarely lets us have the full 950’ view ourselves, but He asks us to follow His lead, and we can be certain He knows where He is going, and where He is taking us. Experiencing hardships with a child? Walking through unexpected job changes? Are you enduring a painful health condition? Have you experienced some deep loss, a tough move or a broken relationship? Maybe it feels like you’re going through all of the above at once?
It’s in those moments you can trust God’s hand, because you know He sees it all. He already knows how He plans to use this in your life. He already knows the character that’s forming in you so you will be more of who He wants you to be, so you can do more of what He wants you to do. God always has the 950’ view, and when you learn to trust Him when you need that view most, you’ll be well on your way to living the Overboard Life!
Go ahead and take the plunge, your perspective is always better on the water!