A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
by David Sisler
When James came home on leave from basic training, his little brother asked, “What do you do in the Army?”
James replied, “I do calisthenics, shoot guns, and follow orders.”
Shopping at the mall later that day, he ran into some friends who also asked what he did in the Army.
Again James answered, “I do calisthenics, shoot guns, and follow orders.”
A little later, another former classmate, this one an attractive young woman, asked James, “What do you do in the Army?”
This time James answered, “I’m studying communications, learning foreign languages and traveling around the world.”
It was all a matter of perspective.
James Whistler wanted to be a soldier. It was his fondest dream. When he failed chemistry and flunked out of West Point, he tried engineering, but he didn’t do well there, either. Finally, he tried painting. His portrait of his mother became one of the great American works of art. Today we marvel at the success of “Whistler’s Mother” without ever being aware of Whistler’s failure. It is a matter of perspective.
Sir Walter Scott wanted to be a poet. It was his misfortune to be writing poetry at the same time as Lord Byron. Disappointed because his poetry didn’t even come close to the beauty of Byron’s, he turned to writing fiction. He was so humiliated that for a long time he did not write under his own name. But from a different perspective, and a long time before Luke Skywalker or Captain James T. Kirk, he gave boys another hero in the novel, Ivanhoe.
Joseph was one of twelve brothers, but he was his father’s favorite. When Jacob gave the boys new coats, he gave eleven of them plain, dull shepherd’s coats. He gave Joseph a beautiful long-sleeved coat of many colors. Joseph’s brothers would have instantly understood – it was not just that Joseph received a better coat. That coat was a symbol of favoritism.
It was a beautiful gift, but it was a gift which generated bitterness. It was a gift that would deprive Jacob of his favorite son for most of his life.
You’ve heard the expression, “seizing the moment.” It did not originate with Joseph’s brothers, but they understood the concept. Jacob sent Joseph to find his brothers. When they saw their father’s favorite, they were filled with hatred, and first planned to kill him, but sold him as a slave instead.
Joseph was first a slave in an Egyptian’s house, then a prisoner in an Egyptian jail. Finally he was elevated to the number two position in all of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh. When he was reunited with his brothers, Joseph said, “God sent me here ahead of you to save people’s lives. It was not you who sent me here, but God.”
Can you imagine loving the brothers who sold you as a slave? Can you imagine forgiving the same people who tore you away from your father? That is exactly what Joseph did. It was a matter of perspective.
If you knew nothing about him, how would you view the life of Jesus? He began with a small following that swelled to thousands. One moment he could enter a town unnoticed, later he was mobbed by multitudes.
Then the opposition began. First it was simple misunderstanding, then it was outright hatred. Finally his enemies had him executed. What began so brilliantly had ended so tragically.
It would be a tragedy if that was the end. But here, as in so much of life, you need a different perspective. Take another look at Jesus. Not from a cross this time, but from an empty tomb. Not at a lifeless corpse, but at a living, risen Savior.
Is your life as you wish it to be? If you answer, “No,” try a different perspective. Try it from the perspective of Jesus.
Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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