Thursday, March 26, 2015

Danger in the Periphery

Image "Suspension Bridge to Mangrove Tropical Forest" Courtesy of Keerati/
Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come ahead.”
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”
Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”  MSG Matthew 14:28-31

I have a faint heart as well.  There are many times that I have found myself saying, "Oh yeah, Jesus, I have a big faith, call me out there and I'll walk to you." 

But the minute I look down or to the side; or, God-forbid it, BEHIND ME...Look out, I will sink like a brick.

Have you ever played "Vanishing Point" on a long car ride?  My mom reminded me about vanishing points when we were driving through Nevada on our way to my new home.  We could see the long stretch of highway ahead of us.  It just laid out there, like a grey stretch of flattened hose on scorched desert land.  You could see the mountains up ahead but the road would just disappear into a point straight ahead of us.  

It was always right there in front of us.   

We could see the point where everything would vanish and it looked like the end.  But it never was.

"Will it turn left or right?"  we would ask, and then try to pick a point to determine if we had indeed turned right or left...but, unless we were watching a compass, we really never noticed turning left or right. We never knew if we went left or right to go around the mountain that had once been in front of us.  We never really knew when we reached that vanishing point, because there was just another vanishing point ahead of us.

From an "artistic" standpoint; in drafting or drawing, the vanishing point is "that spot on the horizon line to which the receding parallel lines diminish."  ( accessed online 3/23/15) 

As Christians, that is our goal; to reach the vanishing point.  If we look to the side too often, or if we are looking behind us, we can get off course; we can lose our way.  As we continue to stare down the road at our vanishing point; at Heaven and Eternal Life with Jesus, we can let all the little things along the side of the road; in the periphery, pass by without taking our attention off the one thing that matters. 

That's how you're supposed to cure motion-sickness too.  Did you know that?  

If you're in the back seat of a car, you feel the motion of the car, but you're staring at the motionless front seat headrest.  In order to alleviate the discomfort of being carsick, you should pick a point on the horizon and watch it as it comes toward you.  Then, when you've reached that point, you pick another point out on the horizon, and so on.  This balances the motion that the fluid in your ears feels with the motion that you are seeing.  (That's also why it doesn't work in planes!  No horizon, no balancing the feelings.  When you're seasick, it's better to be on deck so you can watch the horizon too!)

Runners will ALSO often use this technique to help them run faster and stronger races.  Pick a point out in the distance and stay focused on it until you reach that point, then pick another.  

What does this all mean?  Clearly, God means for us to stay focused on what lies on the horizon, and not become wrapped up in the periphery.  Yes, we have disappointments.  Yes, we have illnesses, surgeries, medical bills, IEPs, appeals, marital problems, family issues...all of that is to be part of our peripheral vision as we stare down the highway toward God, for He is our Vanishing Point.  

Peter looked down and he started to sink.
Jonah went the other direction and got swallowed by a big fish.
Sampson got sidetracked with a beautiful woman and lost his strength.
Adam and Eve had it all, but listened to the serpent.

There is clearly danger in the periphery.  

Pray:  Heavenly Father, I know I tend to get off track and I let myself worry about or become bogged down with the things in the periphery.  Help me, TODAY, to start looking for you on the horizon.  Help me to stop looking down, behind and to the side; I want to stay focused on you and the life eternal which you have promised.  Amen.