By CHRIS BATES
We have been fortunate to have been on a lot of mountains. Looking back over the years, my wife, Stacy, and I have experienced elevations from the highest points in Colorado and the Carolinas to the peaks around Lake Yojoa in Honduras. It seems that we have sought these mountain experiences because of the vastness, the beauty, and sometimes the solitude. Typically an adventure such as a hike or a scenic drive took us to one of these areas where the view was breathtaking.
There is a sense of awe from being able to see great distances. Perspectives shift when we can see further than our immediate surroundings and take in the grandness of what God built. Typically, with it comes pausing to reflect, and then appreciation. As people, we easily understand that amazing scenery gives us that broader scope, and with it hopefully comes thankfulness.
So how can we take those lessons from mountaintop views and use them daily? There is a similar grandness, if we look with open eyes and hearts, through the connectivity to those around us. God wired us to relate. In doing so, we can appreciate the perspective shift outside of ourselves through a focus on others. Think for a moment about a time when you were able to help someone, even if in a small way, and the smile that it brought to them. Reflect on an instance when someone helped you and the sincere appreciation you felt for what they had done.
Our inherent human nature is faulty, as we all know. We are often distracted by things that matter little, and therefore we often don’t have the perspective in our daily lives that can help us reach our true potential. That potential includes being of service to others and God. The Greek word “telos” was utilized by Aristotle and referred to the full potential of a person or thing. It appears that as a philosopher in his time, he knew that our human nature leads us to fall short, often unable to reach our telos.
Despite where we are in life at this moment, whether on a mountain or in a valley, we do have a choice as to our perspective. We choose the lens through which we look at life each day, regardless of our circumstances. There are always others who are more challenged, lonely or hurt. At the same time, there are always people whom we aspire to emulate who have a better perspective on life today.
In our world as Christians, we have many simple tools that can get us more on track. Colossians 3 gives direction to those made alive in Christ, and verse 15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace; and be thankful.” Paul’s words tell us that peace and gratitude are keys.
C.S. Lewis provided us a more specific way to see it when he said, “Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.” We are wise to be intentional and deliberate, making sure of how we look at what is right in front of us. We also need specific ways to achieve that, and prayer is one of our most powerful tools as believers. Be challenged to ask for His help to have focus and perspective to serve Him and others best. The view becomes even more amazing.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.