The Long Perspective

“Remember the days of old, Consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, Your elders, and they will tell you.”
Deuteronomy 32:7

My neighbor just put up a six foot high fence on our south property line. Now I don’t have anymore the long distance sight line in that direction. Our new neighbors are friendly and are apparently going to be a fine addition to the cul-de-sac. I have had some evil (truly evil) neighbors in the past. But these are a welcome addition.

I am not much for fences. I do appreciate their right to install the view-blocking structure, and don’t begrudge them their desire for privacy or any other reason for the construction. They were considerate enough to position the pretty side in my direction. And I won’t let this harm our friendship, I can cope with it. Its just that I personally don’t enjoy my view of the environment to be limited to twenty or forty feet. Neither do I think our cats care for the obstruction. They too like to be able to see for long distances.

I like the long perspective on things, life, the world, the universe, existence. When we moved to this house on a barrier island outside of Savannah there was no fence there. I was even able to watch the space shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral which lies 300 miles due south. It was twilight and I could stand on my patio and see for a number of seconds the brilliance of the escape vehicle’s exhaust as its trajectory out over the Atlantic developed. So the ability to see for long distances has its rewards.

I was also blessed when a cousin sent to my Dad over ten years ago a huge amount of genealogy data that detailed my family tree. Even though it only went back to the mid 1700s it was an eye opening revelation. It struck me how important it is to understand from where we came, in order to better understand where we are heading. This sadly is a lesson seemingly almost lost these days. Families seem to seldom share on a regular basis details and stories of extended family members. The result is that we hardly know our uncles and aunts and cousins anymore. The show “Who Do You Think You Are” is a recent and popular attempt to reawaken the spirit of the long family viewpoint. But the concept has a long way to go to make inroads on American culture. I tried to get my Mom, the only parent I have left, to write down as much as she can remember of her childhood and growing up and her family. Because once Mom is gone, and she’s 86 now, all that information is as good as lost forever. I gently remind her of this, and that she was a journalism major in college, so it should be a fun exercise for her. But sadly I don’t think it will ever happen.

I don’t think the fence indicates that I an claustrophobic, but I recognize that being able to see over long distances has a calming and pleasant effect on my psyche. I am also one of the rare individuals who enjoys driving through the flat countryside of Ohio. Where most people are bored out of their minds by the interminably flat landscape I see the history of the country spread out before me, the traces of indigenous peoples who populated and thrived in these areas over the centuries. I hate driving at night because you can’t see anything around you – it’s like driving with a bag over your head. It is extremely unpleasant!

This all leads me to see how important it is to understand the beginning of God’s working with His creation. Without the perspective of our true beginning we become like a traveler without compass or reference points. We walk in circles, or at best having no true idea where we are going, or destination being random and not of our own choosing. The reference points of history, particularly as detailed in the Old Testament, are vital data points to assist in defining the road ahead that lies in our best interest. Sure there are detours that look interesting, but which really are only distractions influencing us to abandon the better road. And we all take these detours on occasion. Some never find their way back. Others are more fortunate – they return to the guidebook to reorient themselves to the goal.

This is what Moses tells God’s people over and over again. The road before you has more than enough to hold your interest and enjoyment. Don’t get sidetracked by the distractions that can only end up getting you so lost that you perish. Keep in mind from whence you came, and how you have made it this far, and don’t take your eyes of the promise of life.

class=”scripture”>for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

These are the two options as Moses continually reminds his people before they conquer Canaan. Life or destruction. They are the same for us. Choose life!

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

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