I love hearing the backstories of people who've "made it" in their field of expertise. I find it very interesting to hear how they started their journey, and the good and not so good parts of the experiences that led them to where they ended up in life.
Recently, I viewed an episode from a documentary series about famous chefs, and this particular chef's closing comment sent me collecting pen and paper because it so aligned with something the Holy Spirit has been emphasizing over the past month or so during my morning quiet times in the Word.
"It's still exactly the same place. It's just that I see it differently."
The episode highlighted a Swedish chef who'd made an international name for himself, doing so in a familiar setting that he didn't always value. After leaving home, he studied at a culinary school in a rural area of Sweden before moving on to an institute in Paris where he eventually obtained a job under a reputable chef at a Michelin starred restaurant, only to find himself years later back in the "middle of nowhere"— the unchanged environment he was once discontent in, with no aspirations of ever remaining.
Certainly, it was his shift in perspective about this environment that had made all the difference in his coming into purpose, right in the midst of it.
I think there's much to be spiritually gleaned from this chef's earthly revelation.
Consider for a moment the history of the Children of Israel prior to the exploration of Canaan, described for us in the thirteenth chapter of Numbers (a book I've found myself in a lot lately). Even though God's faithfulness, goodness, mercy, grace and provision had been continuously bestowed upon His people (along with every other attribute He perfectly possesses), His children consistently struggled with having the right perspective. They consistently succumbed to a flesh-driven point of view of their present-day environment. And more times than not, they lost touch with reality—not earth's reality, of course, but Heaven's.
Oh, what was forfeited because of it!
There's no denying that God's people had a history of being in the midst of undesirable facts: Egypt. Pharoah. Bondage. The Red Sea. The desert. No food. No water. Enemies all around. However, in spite of these very real, very hard truths, there was the Creator of All. The Living God. And out of all the people of the earth, He had chosen them to be His treasured possession. Yes, throughout their earthly sojourn, there were the undeniable realities of their circumstances; but even more so, there was the overarching, overseeing, overpowering reality of their faithful, provisional God who had declared His covenant promises over their lives.
Yet, in spite of the up-close evidence of God's awe and majesty, which they repeatedly experienced and benefited from, they—more often than not—didn't focus on the right things. Their perspective, all too often, was skewed by what they saw with earthly eyes and unfaithful hearts.
So when the time arrived to explore Canaan, the majority just couldn't bring themselves to trust the Almighty or believe that He would do what He'd already declared.
God's right perspective had been replaced by their wrong perspective.
Truth had been pushed aside by lies.
It's so unfortunate—tragic, actually—that God's deeply loved, chosen children routinely chose to not trust Him.
May this not be true of me.
May this not be true of you.
Last weekend, I went to a women's conference at the church I attend in Alabama. I was amazed—well, not really, because this is how God often works and the Spirit moves—when some of the Scriptures referenced and statements made were the very things God has been recently addressing in my quiet times, as though the speaker had been made privy to my journal (and even made privy to parts of this blog, already previously written) and what God's been honing in on in my private sessions with Him.
One subject addressed was this very topic of perspective. The speaker's message centered around this same passage in Numbers 13, and she delivered a most anointed word about the false scripts of defeat that we write, instead of constructing narratives of victory from the perspective of Scripture's truth.
Ok, God, I thought as I sat there, I'm hearing you. Truly hearing you. Forgive my recent moments of unbelief. Forgive me for allowing a skewed, false perspective even a single dominating minute. Forgive me for giving the undesirable realities of my environment more attention in my mind than THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH of the words you've already declared over my circumstances. Forgive me for succumbing to a negative, complaining heart. Forgive me for allowing worry and woe to weaken worship. Forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me.
In every season and every day, throughout the sojourn that is my life, I have a choice. And so do you. Will I trust my Heavenly Father and believe every word of His declared Word, in spite of present-day encounters and long-enduring realities? Will I? Will your perspective remain grounded in Him and the true words He's declared over your life, through every season? Will it? Or will our narratives be scripted and skewed by what's understood with natural eyes?
And, if God's sovereign will prescribes that you and I remain in "exactly the same place," in terms of less than desirable realities that remain unchanged, will we choose to "see it differently," having a perspective that's conquered by the unseen, not contaminated by the seen?
Will we be like the Children of Israel? Will we doubt and fear? Will we grumble, disobey, complain? Will we influence others to do the same? Or, will you and I be Hebrews 11 followers of the Most High, believing, trusting, obeying and worshiping, in spite of what is, trusting fully His declared words, come what may?
No matter the unique purposes God directs each of us into, foundational to our fully coming into these purposes is faith.
It's always about faith.
Always about trusting our Father—trusting His character, His heart.
Always about maintaining the right perspective, one that's seeped in, saturated with, and shaped by His true Word.
Always about believing He'll do what He said He'll do.
When we do this, day in and day out, we'll find ourselves coming into and living out His holy purposes, even in the midst of less-than-desirable, lowly environments.
Which, sadly, is exactly what the Israelites did not do.
But, glory hallelujah, exactly what the Savior did!