David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Changing attitude”

A Change in Perspective (2014-03-11 Daily) [2 of 2]

One of the biggest obstacles to quitting my full time job and diving into this writing career was, of course, money.  From the time I was a teenager making 50 cents an hour babysitting and three dollars a yard mowing grass, I kept meticulous track of my financial status.  As I grew older I discovered the joy of keeping a budget, but soon this handy tool became an obsession; I would do and re-do my budget up to twice a day.  So you can imagine how hard it was for me to change careers at age 49, turning loose a six-figure income in exchange for a shot at living my dream, and writing full time on hope, prayer, and trust in God’s promises.  Fear of poverty is a vestige of my “old man” I still deal with, but back then that fear held me in bondage, causing me to wait three decades to finally step out and answer God’s call.

One day, as I rubbed my budget between my fingers for the umpteenth time prior to leaving my comfy job and a relatively secure pension, I fretted about the bottom line and how much I’d have to make to remain financially afloat as I embarked on my new lifestyle.  I calculated and recalculated the minimum hourly income I’d need from a side job to keep the house and pay my expenses, and I went so far as to figure out how many years I’d have before I would be forced to sell my house and move into something more financially in-line with a writer’s income.  That’s when God stepped in: “You’re not taking into account the revenue from the books,” He declared, gently.  Oh My God!  He was absolutely right!  In my clouded, pessimistic thinking, I’d basically planned for failure, calculating the number of years to financial insolvency with no thought that my writing would be successful; I hadn’t even given my dream a chance to thrive let alone survive.  In one word of encouragement, Daddy shifted my thinking from one of wretched poverty to one of brilliant hope in following His calling.  It was a change in perspective, a 180 degree flip in my attitude.  And my reality.

Several months later, while participating in a Freedom class at New River Fellowship in Hudson Oaks, Texas, Korby Taylor, the course facilitator, asked us to close our eyes and allow God to show us how His Kingdom is being manifested in our lives right now.  I leaned back in the chair, took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and opened my mind in anticipation of what the Lord would reveal.  Moments later I clearly envisioned an empty bookshelf on our massive wall unit in the living room.  Suddenly a book appeared and slid into place on the shelf, leaning against the left-hand side.  Then another book appeared and slid into place, nestled up to the first one.  Then another and another and another.  I smiled at the vision, reveled in the revelation that what God called me to do was coming to pass.  “Notice the bookshelf,” He suddenly said from within the thankfulness of my reverie.  “It’s the same one.”

Oh My God!  He was absolutely right!  As I enjoyed watching God stock the bookshelf with my future writing, He opened my spiritual eyes to the fact that the bookshelf He was populating was the exact same bookshelf which now stood in the living room.  Of my house.  The same house I worried about losing because of the uncertainty of my future financial status.  This little kiss on the cheek affirmed I still had nothing to worry about: I’d still be living in the same house as the books–my books!–stacked up on that bookshelf.  He again changed my perspective and brought my future into the light of His reality.

A good friend of mine, Luke Ogle, shared the following story with our life group recently: One day while driving to work, Luke fell into his habit of praying and spending time with Daddy.  He asked God to bless and protect his family, to walk out his day with him and clear out any obstacles that might lay in waiting for him, and to shower down His love.  “In the midst of all that,” Luke related, “I said something that was so innocent, so nonchalant, that the true meaning never crossed my mind.  It was a thank you: ‘Thank You God, in all Your Majesty, that You love, protect, and bless a grain of sand like me.’”

The Presence of God swooped in.  “It hit me like a freight train at full speed!” Luke said.  “I’ve encountered the Lord before, but never in this this magnitude, and never so quickly and clearly.  Jesus definitely took the wheel of my morning commute because I no longer saw the road and the cars around me.”  God took Luke in His arms and took him on a half-second ride from his car up to the top of the world.  “More literally above the world, our earth,” Luke continued.  “I was sitting in His arms looking down upon the earth.  He spoke in my ear and He said ever so gently, like He always does, ‘I didn’t create you to be a grain of sand.  I created you to be so much more.  More than all you see now.  I created you above all else, so do not be a grain of sand any longer because I died and rose again to make you heir to the Throne.’  Then my Daddy kissed me on the forehead, like He always does, and gave me a hug.  I thanked Him again, this time for allowing me to see Him and the experience that I will never forget.  I thanked Him for creating me to be on top of the world and heir to His Mighty Throne.  Then I was returned to my car.”  All of this took place in the stretch of a quarter mile, in traffic, at 70 miles-per-hour.

“Now I see the bigger picture,” Luke concluded.  “The one I was made for.  The one I am destined for.  The one I am heir to.”  In other words, a change in perspective.

 

Copyright © 2014 by David C Hughes

 

A Change in Perspective (2014-03-06 Daily) [1 of 2]

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

–Abraham Lincoln

 

Hannah recently had a gymnastics meet in Rockwall, Texas, about 80 miles east of the Hughes farm in unincorporated Parker County.  As has become pretty common this winter, the weather forecasters predicted a good chance of freezing rain and freezing drizzle the day of the meet, despite the 84 degree weather we enjoyed the day before.  And as the arctic cold front roared through the area, driving the mercury below freezing, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning.  This is why I moved away from New York, I told myself as we pulled out of the garage into the freezing rain, sleet, and gusty 30 mile-per-hour winds.  To get away from this mess!

We arrived at Rockwall High School on time, glazed with a light coating of rime, but as we sat through the meet, the harsh north winds carried with them an increased torrent of rain which, at 27 degrees, froze to the cars, the sidewalks, the parking lot . . . and the freeway home.  When I nudged the Traverse onto westbound I-30 and joined the other tentative drivers on the 80-mile long linear ice skating rink, I prayed for safety and patience, hoping our drive back to Aledo wouldn’t turn into an expensive bumper-car thrill ride.

As we inched along, rubber-necking at the aftermath of several accidents and witnessing countless flashing emergency lights, I began to relax when I realized my nervousness, my drama, my judgmental attitude about the idiot drivers in their fishtailing pickup trucks, and my glass-half-empty outlook were clouding my ability to actually enjoy this extended time together with my family, participating in an adventure that doesn’t happen very often in North Texas.  I finally gave into my wife’s much more joyful attitude about the situation, sat back, and rode out the rest of the almost three-hour sled ride in my 5,000 pound all-wheel-drive bobsled with acceptance rather than a selfish sense of inconvenience.  That drive did something wonderful: it helped change my perspective about being in a situation I didn’t have much control over.  Besides, adventures like these always give me something to write about!

The outcome, or even the moment-by-moment experience of any situation, is determined chiefly by how we process and act on the thoughts we have about that situation; we all have the ability to reframe our experiences, no matter what they are.  As such, isn’t all of life a matter of perspective?  Isn’t how we look at the world the chief determiner of how we function in the world?  Doesn’t how we handle our thoughts lead to how we handle the situation producing those thoughts?  After all, we always have a choice about whether or not to believe the thoughts flying through our heads, and how we subsequently act on those thoughts.  “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” the apostle Paul advised in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV).

By taking each thought captive and holding it up to the Truth of God’s Word, the reality of any situation can be brought into sharp focus.  Mourning truly can be turned into joy, weeping can be restored into laughter as we allow God to transform our minds and change our perspective.  As image-bearers of the Most High God, we were created to create, to imagine, to produce order from chaos, to bring into reality those things that first existed in our heads.  “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” Jesus said (Matthew 6:10 NIV).  It’s how we choose to handle those thoughts which can raise us to the pinnacle of our potential, or crush us under the tank treads of depression.

So, life is a matter of perspective, and it’s up to us to change that perspective as necessary to align it with not only our hopes and dreams, but with God’s will.  Sometimes that takes an epiphany.  Sometimes a eureka moment.  Sometimes a smack on the back of the head with Wisdom’s rolling pin.  The answer to a prayer may be a shift in perspective; instead of thinking outside the box we need to take the box off the shelf, dust it off, disassemble it, and rearrange the parts into a nifty two-story birdhouse with a reflecting pool and an outdoor shower.  Instead of seeking the 40,000 foot view of the forest, we need to hack our way through the trees with a machete and a conquering attitude.  “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time,” wrote Isaac Asimov in I, Robot. “People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”  Sometimes it’s God holding up that mirror.

In the Book of Isaiah, the prophet quoted God as saying, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV).  Thank God He doesn’t think like we do!  Thank God He sees the big picture, not only across space, but across time.  He’s got it all worked out, and as I mature in my Christian walk, and as my spiritual eyes and ears continue to open to the Kingdom of God at hand, I realize He’s the Master at changing my perspective.

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Copyright © 2014 David C Hughes

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