Things look different from an airplane window. Mountaintops become wonderfully visible, the snow gleaming in the sun. From the ground the peaks would appear perfectly white, but from an airplane I could see trails of mud where melted snow had mixed with soil. Elevation makes a big difference in perspective.
The Great Salt Lake of Utah is especially striking by air. Have you ever seen it? In the corner of my airplane window there first appeared tendrils of blood-colored water. These tendrils soon gave way to a massive expanse of red liquid, that stopped in a straight line and transformed into the grayish-green we normally associate with water. I didn’t know what to make of it. Having never been to Utah I wondered what had happened there to cause the lake to behave so strangely (although I’m sure at some point I learned about this, yet another thing I’ve forgotten from my school days).
So I went to the web for answers and I found out that the Great Salt Lake is split into parts by a causeway (hence the abrupt change in water color), and one side is tinted by blue-green or green algae, while the other side holds algae and other organisms that color the water reddish-purple. From the ground you might not notice but “these color differences are especially noticeable in satellite photographs.” Or from an airplane, apparently.
Without a doubt, elevation changes how we view the natural world.
Could it also change how we view the spiritual realm? And if so, how do we find this elevated perspective? Sometimes I wish I could navigate life from a spiritual airplane – the mountaintops in clear view, my darker days clearly separated from better ones by a causeway and color-coded for easy reference.
How do we begin to see ourselves and others like God sees us? As always, the Bible has something to say about this.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the LORD, and he will lift you up.” James 4:7-10
Those are some sobering thoughts. Submit to God, resist the devil. Grieve, mourn and wail because of our sin. Not exactly the words I want to hear.
But then again, boarding an airplane is also a sobering experience. First of all, there’s gravity. And once you push that thought out of your mind, there’s the safety presentation reminding you to look toward the nearest exit, put your own oxygen mask on first, and how to use your seat cushion as a raft. Just when you’re done reminding yourself that hundreds of planes land without incident every day, the plane soars and as you look toward the ground buildings become like Legos and scores of farms look like a patchwork quilt. You feel so small, so vulnerable, so very helpless.
But the view is breathtaking.
Humble yourselves before the LORD, and he will lift you up.
To Thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Psalm 25:1