Have you ever noticed the way a picture frame can change how you see the picture it holds?
I've noticed this. Sometimes I'll think a picture has no hope. There is no way I can display it because it just isn't fancy enough, or it just doesn't look right with the decor.
But then I will find the perfect frame, and all the pieces seem to fit. What once looked out of place now looks right at home.
With the right frame, things work. I notice something that was always there, but had escaped my attention. With the right frame, that tense thing inside of me holding its breath relaxes, and every part of my being exhales a big "ahhhh."
Frames matter to pictures. Our frame of mind, frame of heart, frame of spirit, matters more.
How we see the world changes the world we see.
It may not be what you want to hear, yet I have witnessed this truth in my own life and in the lives of others time and time again.
One of the most powerful times I have experienced this was during the last year I served my first church. I was young, only three years out of seminary, serving a large congregation as associate pastor. The church was in turmoil under the senior pastor's leadership. Friendships I had cherished had been painfully interrupted. Dreams of sailing through ordination had been deferred. It was a time of brokenness, pungent with pain and disappointment.
During that season I was also fulfilling a contingency for ordination, seeing a counselor. With all the upheaval going on, this requirement became more of a blessing. I began to see how years of unresolved heartache were coloring my present perceptions. As I found the courage to release the pain of the past, my present found new meaning. I remember sharing with my counselor that I felt like the sun was rising on a new morning in my life.
That perception was a gift from God.
I'm so thankful for it. I'm so thankful for the Grace He gave to see that specific time period His way. The truth was that in those desperate, lonely times, He was preparing me for a new life, a new ministry, new Hope that my physical eyes could not yet see, but my spiritual eyes were beginning to perceive. I could have ignored, denied, discounted, or in all other sorts of ways deminished the truth God was showing me about the life I was living. And in doing that I could have missed the opportunity born from the ashes of an old dream dying.
It is a hard truth to hear sometimes. Because the world we live in is not always hospitable. Because sometimes the days are dark. Sometimes everything within us wants to run away and hide. But I know that the only perspective we need is the only one that really matters: Heaven's.
I have seen persons who have suffered immeasurably have the faith to trust God in true ugliness. Circumstances that take the breath away. Their faith, their decision to act as if God is everything He says He is, made a difference in the outcome of their circumstances. In the face of tragic loss, unspeakable abuse, I have seen these courageous persons not allow their feelings to rule their hearts. Instead they have allowed God's tender grace space to live within their hearts, regardless of how ragged or broken they were. These souls are my heroes. They inspire me to hold on. They challenge me to not allow the details of my circumstances to blind me to the Presence of Grace surrounding me.
This is the frame we most need: the one that holds unswervingly to Truth, that seeks it at all costs, and believes it beyond the feeling of the moment. This is the frame that changes the picture we see.