Tag Archives: Perspective

Do the Time: It’s Worth the Climb

The dark valley. (1)

We’ve all been there – and most likely will be again. Perhaps it’s your current dwelling place. We may be in the valley because of the circumstances of life. Things happen, difficult things, that we cannot control. Dark times are a fact of life. Or we may be in the valley because our attitude, our mindset takes and holds us there.

Whichever the case, it’s never fun. And climbing out is hard constant work. Sometimes we feel it’s just simpler to stay there and grin and bear it, thinking “This, too, shall pass.” Yet seldom, if ever, does someone swoop down and pull us out.

But we need not give in to that temptation of simple bearing it. In fact, there is a way of thinking and living that not only lifts us out of the valley but can lessen the number of times we’re in the valley. The prophet Ezekiel paints a stirring picture.

“The passageway of the side chambers widened from story to story; for the structure was supplied with a stairway all around the temple. For this reason the structure became wider from story to story. One ascended from the bottom story to the uppermost story by way of the middle one.” (Ezekiel 41:7 New Revised Standard Version)

There is a way to the uppermost story, to the top floor, to the grand, broader and brighter view. There is an uppermost level that changes everything. Just climb the stairs. Do the hard, constant work of climbing the stairs one at a time. (2)

In other words, do the time – it’s worth the climb.

Charles Spurgeon preached it powerfully. (3)

“We ought not to rest content in the mists of the valley when the summit of Tabor awaits us. How pure are the dews of the hills, how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the fare of the dwellers aloft, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem! Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see not the sun. Tears mar their faces when they might anoint them with celestial oil. Satisfied I am that many a believer pines in a dungeon when he might walk on the palace roof, and view the goodly land and Lebanon…Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!”

We climb upward through the constant hard work of filling our minds and hearts with thoughts of the higher broader view. It’s daily, sometimes hourly work. It’s focusing all our sight upward. (4)

You’d think that after 45 years of ministry I’d find it easy. Not! I find it harder than ever. At least when I was preaching every week I studied and soaked in the Word. But without that weekly deadline and pressure, it’s way too easy to become lazy. And I begin to lose that higher broader view. And that impacts everything I do.

So I confess – I am working at it. I know what’s needed. More reading and studying the Word. More times of prayer. More Christian media and music. In other words more time set aside and focused. Easy, right? But that means less TV, less IPad word games, less sports talk radio! Ouch – it hurts to think about it.  But I know that if I do the time – it will be worth the climb.

So two points for your thoughts. One – There will be times beyond our control when we’ll be in the valley. Whether or not we stay there will be up to us. Two – Whether or not we slowly lose the higher broader view and slip into the valley at other times is up to us. These words express it more eloquently and pointed than I can.

Not many of us are living at our best. We linger in the lowlands because we are afraid to climb the mountains. The steepness and ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in the misty valleys and do not learn the mystery of the hills. We do not know what we lose in our self-indulgence, what glory awaits us if only we had courage for the mountain climb, what blessing we should find if only we would move to the uplands of God. (5)

Will you do the time? It’s worth the climb! I’m certain that’s why Jesus spent so much time apart to be in contact with His (and our) Father. If He needed to, surely we do too.

May the words of Jason Oatman, Jr. be your prayer and song (6):

“I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray, till heaven I’ve found,
Lord, lead me on to higher ground!”


(1) Valley Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
(2) Stairs Photo by Maxime Lebrun on Unsplash
(3) As quoted in Streams in the Desert, January 2, Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, © 1965 Cowman Publications, Inc.
(4) Eyes Upward Photo from Lightstock
(5) As quoted in Streams in the Desert, January 2, Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, © 1965 Cowman Publications, Inc.
(6) Higher Ground
(7) Higher Ground-Photo by Eric Froehling on Unsplash

Trashy Treasure


An abandoned area that is covered with trash and street graffiti. This makes an excellent background or backdrop. Shallow depth of field.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. It’s most often said when advertising a rummage sale. I’ve heard and said it often. However, I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with it – I’ve wondered what impact it has upon those purchasing the items in the sale. If my stuff is trash, does that mean the person buying it is a trashy person? I hope not – I would never mean it that way. I hope the message is that we all have different needs and view things differently. What I don’t need, you may need. What I see as useless, you may see as useful. What I see as of little value, you may see of great value. It’s all a matter of perspective. I determine what is trash and treasure in my life and you determine what it is in yours.

It occurs to me that this same principle applies to what happens to us, to how we respond to the events and circumstance of life. I pondered this recently when I read a chapter in Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book, “Buried Treasure.”[i] He pointed out that in the Hebrew language a word spelled backwards often has the opposite meaning of the original word.  For example the Hebrew word for trash is resh-peh-shin. Reverse it and you get shin-peh-resh, which is the root for the word SHaPiR which means ‘excellent’ or ‘fine’ and is the basis of the word sapphire. I find that fascinating. When I’m in the midst of a

antique wooden chest isolated on white background

difficult experience it looks bad, like trash. But often time tells a different story; when I later look back on it I see how it was an experience that refined, molded and taught me. The trash was really a treasure.

This changes how I view my present experiences. Is the tough time I’m going through trash or treasure? My perspective will determine how I respond. It’s now so much what happens to us that matters as it is how we respond to what happens to us. It’s not what life brings to us in her hands as it is what we bring to life in ours.

That’s one of the reasons I wrote my book on the life of Joseph.[ii] His life was full of trash – dysfunctional family, rejection, revenge, guilt, broken dreams, temptation, and self-pity. But they were mere stepping stones that took him from a pit of death to a place in a palace. When he was reconciling with his brothers – who had betrayed him – he proclaimed “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” He saw all the tough times in his life not as trash but trashy treasure.

Joseph’s life principle points to Jesus. Even He demonstrated that trash could be treasure. He died the most cruel and despised death of all – crucifixion. But when he rose from the dead He proved the trashy cross was really the treasure of salvation for all who believe.

Whatever you view as trash in your life, try reversing your thinking. It may just become a treasure. Be open to what God is doing in your life.

[i] Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Buried Treasure (Multnomah Publishers, 2001), 151f.

[ii] “When the Going Gets Tough” – see www.revcpikk.com