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Trail Notes

Keeping Things in Perspective

by Jim Johnson

As I write this I am flying back to Dallas from Orlando. For my 50th birthday, celebrated back in January, Robin surprised me with a trip to watch several Atlanta Brave’s Spring training games with two of my closest friends from our Atlanta days. And, in spite of the fact that two of the three games were rained out, we had a great time catching up on our lives and recalling the fondest memories of former days.

Now, here’s a riddle. What do flying, celebrating a landmark birthday, and spending time with old friends have in common? Give up? They all sharpen your perspective. It’s amazing how your view of objects and reality change when you are looking down from 32,000 feet. Imposing buildings become match boxes. Intimidating rivers look like kite string strewn across the landscape. Clouds that darken the day and spoil baseball games can be mistaken for the cotton candy you didn’t get to eat sitting behind home plate. From God’s eye view, all things look possible.

When you turn fifty you are long past the point of getting to blow out all your candles. For one thing, that many don’t come in a single box, and if you did put them all on a cake your decreasing lung capacity would render you unable to blow them all out and you wouldn’t get your wish anyway. But, I digress. It’s amazing how your view of God’s faithfulness changes when you get to take a longer look. Most of us live our lives within the confines of the present moment and we forget much too quickly how often God has blessed, provided, and even rescued us along the way. When you see God’s handiwork across the years you begin to realize that His faithfulness to you in the past is also a portent of His faithfulness to you in the future.

And then, there are old friends—friends with whom you have prayed, worked, worshiped, suffered, cried, celebrated, and watched baseball. How they remind you that that life is really about relationships. I’ve been gone from my former church over three years now. I have no official position or influence there. The new receptionist doesn’t even recognize my voice when I call. But I do have one thing that will last through eternity—the friendships and relationships that I established while I served there.

Now, before you start thinking I’m just a sentimental old coot, I want you to look with me at PRESTON TRAIL from my newly sharpened perspective. We’ve got some exciting and challenging days ahead of us—reaching more people, growing our Life Groups, expanding our Serving Teams, raising capital, buying property, building our first buildings. On one hand, when you look at all of these things they can be pretty intimidating. But on the other, when you see them from the perspective of 32,000 feet, or God’s eye view, they look easily doable!

When we are faced with logistical or financial challenges that have the potential to knock the wind right out of us, we’ll remember God’s abundant faithfulness in the past and run headlong into our future trusting Him every step of the way. And, all the while, what will make everything worth it will be the people. The people who come to know Christ. The people who God will shape to be more like Christ. The people with whom you will labor and sweat as you help fulfill God’s purposes. The people who will be forever grateful that you served them in Jesus’ name. The people with whom you will form an inextricable bond of love.

Come to think of it, when you keep things in perspective you are able to sing along with the great one hit wonder band, Timbuk 3 . . . The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!

Jim Johnson