How’s Your Perspective?
In the midst of life’s challenges, we certainly can lose perspective. Lost in the details, we have at times seen very little purpose to some of our own family’s struggles. One night in the last year as we prayed, one of us laid out a long list before the Lord and then said, “We need help, Jesus.” That list daunted us, mocked us, and created unbelievable human struggle. The list we uttered to God that night included: the spine, the elbow, the brain, ADHD, seizures, deafness, speech delay, fine motor delay, social development, the palate, hearing aids, medication amounts. We’ll stop now, you get the picture (and it sort of overwhelms us just to type it!)
But as we prayed over that list… we saw the cross.
That same night as our kids ate colorful ice cream sherbet, we showed them something cool about perspective in the Bible. It comes from the book of Numbers – yeah, that OT book where you love to hang out. Yet, there’s a deep spiritual lesson about perspective in all those numbers. Note to parents – ice cream really helps in family devotions. It even tames a 5 or 6-year-old climber. Just saying…
So, in Numbers 2, the Lord instructs Moses about the arrangement of the tribal camps during their wilderness wandering. “Wow,” you say, “That sounds like a riveting family devotion!” But wait… there’s more!
The twelve tribes of Israel were to camp around the Tent of Meeting, with four groups of tribes branched off in four different directions. This structure kept them organized for 40 years! (Hang with us and you’ll see a beautiful perspective.)
On the East side these tribes were to pitch their tents:
Total 186,400 Collectively rallying under the flag of Judah
On the South side:
Total 151,450 Collectively rallying under the flag of Reuben
On the West side:
Total 108,100 Collectively rallying under the flag of Ephraim
On the North side
Total 157,600 Collectively rallying under the flag of Dan
Stay with us. Notice that the Bible does not mention anyone setting up tents in the SW, SE, NW, or NE. Perhaps because every tribe lived within the line of the tent of meeting? That is, the tribes branched out in the four directions from the tent of meeting. Now, to make counting easier, if you break down the numbers into blocks of 50,000, you’d see something that looked like this:
What do you see?
Did the people see it while they were within it? Of course not. They couldn’t see the design they made. Today a drone view or aerial photo could capture it. Although no one at that time could fly high enough to get this perspective, God could. God can see the full perspective. Therefore, we can trust the One who can see it all. He is big enough to weave all the pieces together through all of life. He not only sees, he overcomes!
We don’t know why our family struggles with so much “stuff.” Often it feels like an urgent distraction. We sometimes feel like we are wandering here and there, wasting so much time. Are we struggling against the Enemy, or are we trying to keep up with the Holy Spirit?
Perhaps some of our circumstances are the Enemy trying to trip us up and cause us to doubt God’s goodness and power. So how can we turn this around? How can we gain a different perspective? We can choose to trust the Lord, trust his goodness, trust his perspective, trust his power, and praise Him.
May the wanderings and struggles of our lives be shaped by the cross, as a foreshadowing of the victory and inheritance to come.
Perhaps today, speak your overwhelming list out to God. Then, in silence, reflect on the Cross. May the Lord work the power of His crucifixion and the power of His resurrection through your life. Remember, you may not see it. But the Lord is weaving a story and organizing an army with your life. Don’t let go. Don’t look down. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
P.S. You can find these instructions in Numbers 2:1-34 and 3:21-38. Also, the Levites surrounded the Tent of Meeting on all sides based on the clans of Levi (Gershom – West, Kohath – South, Merari – North, Moses/Aaron – South) = same general picture.