Look at life from God’s perspective, writes Edwin Michael (pictured above, inset).
While on holiday a couple of years ago, Margaret and I decided to spend a day on the beach. It’s not something we often do – I’ve never really liked the abrasive mix of sand and sun cream!
On the particular beach we visited, there is a strong northerly drift. People regularly enter the water to splash around but discover when coming out again that they are 20 or 30 metres north of where they went in.
About a mile or so out to sea there is a sizeable island with a few buildings on it. It was a spectacular day: hot but with a strong breeze, blue skies – the perfect holiday setting.
As we lay there, both of us noticed a swimmer in the water much further out than people normally go, probably a good hundred metres.
He was swimming strongly and as we spotted him, he was just beside an orange buoy in the water. A little concerned, we focused in on the swimmer and noticed that after several minutes, even with a strong front crawl, he appeared to be making no progress against the current and, in spite of all the effort, was remaining just the same distance from the buoy.
Growing even more concerned I began to wonder if he might be in trouble and was thinking about getting help. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed, but no one seemed to have spotted him and, with that, the pressure mounted even more on me. After a further few minutes fixated on the gap between the swimmer and the buoy, I was convinced I had to do something.
Then suddenly, it dawned on me! When I widened my gaze and viewed the swimmer against the coastline of the island beyond him, he had actually travelled a considerable distance in the desired direction. However, he still remained just the same distance from the buoy. It turned out he was in training and was actually attached to the buoy, which was travelling with him.
The buoy was absolutely no use to me in checking his progress. I needed the immovable island to gauge where the swimmer was. For a few moments I had been completely disorientated. It turned out there was no crisis, no need for a lifeguard, the swimmer was perfectly fine and walked up the beach about 30 minutes later.
I had been within seconds of making a total spectacle of myself by raising a false alarm! It all had to do with perspective and how I viewed the situation.
In our lives, proper perspective is vital. Over the years I have become totally convinced that God’s Word is the only reliable marker we can gauge things by. Everything else is in a state of flux. Everything else is moving with us.
Values, morals, concepts of right and wrong and what is considered to be of real worth; these things are all changing in our world. If I measure my life against the standards and morals of this world, which are constantly shifting, then I have no idea where I am. In fact, I may convince myself I’m doing really well if I choose as my guide the low benchmark of the world.
As Christians we must learn to view everything in life through the lens of God’s inspired Word and use it like a mirror, which reveals to us not only eternal truth but also the truth about ourselves. To draw from any other source or seek to assess our progress by any other comparison opens us to the probability of being influenced by the world rather than being influencers in it.
• Edwin is the Elim Irish Superintendent and a member of the Irish Leadership Team. He has been a member of Elim’s National Leadership Team since 2018. He is married to Margaret and they have two grown children.