Use Your Binoculars the Right Way


Oh, magnify the LORD with me. – Psalm 34:3 (NKJV)
Except for a few last-minute items, the camper is packed for our final camping trip of the year. Although rain is in the forecast, we’re hoping it’ll hold off long enough for us to hike one of the trails we hiked last spring—the Buzzard Swamp Trail in the Allegheny National Forest.

Experiencing nature, to me, is experiencing God. I stop frequently to enjoy the scenic view, listen to the calls of wildlife or the ripple of a brook, or inhale the scent of pine and humus—and thank the Creator for His awesome work.

We’ll stuff a backpack with our lunch, water bottles, protein snacks, and raingear. We’ll take my walking stick, the camera—and the binoculars.

We don’t want to forget the binoculars, like we did on one hiking trip. Without them, we miss so much. With them, we can see things in the distance closer, clearer, and bigger—that is, if we use them the right way.

Now, who in their right mind would use binoculars the wrong way? While it does take some fiddling with the dial to adjust the view, it doesn’t take a member of Mensa to know how to use field glasses. It’s pretty obvious which part you hold up to your eyes. If you hold the wider end to your eyes, though, the view becomes smaller, more distant.

We have “binoculars” to help us to see God better, too—nearer, clearer, and bigger. But I fear sometimes we use them the wrong way and thus perceive God as distant, fuzzy, and little.

One type of spiritual binoculars is prayer. Talking to God doesn’t actually bring Him closer, just like binoculars don’t bring what you’re looking at through them physically closer. But they do help you to see distant things as though they were nearer. Remember, God is always with you (Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 139), whether or not you feel His presence. The binoculars of prayer, though, bring you closer to God. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Another type of spiritual binoculars is Scripture. As I spend more time in God’s Word, my perception of Him becomes clearer. (John 1:1)

Another type of spiritual binoculars is nature itself. I see God in the sky, the trees, the wind, the rain, the rainbow—everything in nature reflects the Creator, who is much, much bigger than the God I can only imagine. The universe—the heavens, the earth, and all of space and what it contains—cannot contain Him. He is infinite, not limited by space or time. (1 Kings 8:27, 2 Peter 3:8)

The problem is sometimes we use the binoculars the wrong way. We hold the wider end to our eyes—and get a much smaller view.

Maybe some folks are content with a small view of God. It makes them more comfortable, feeling more in control.

But remember, the binoculars are simply a device to improve our perception—it doesn’t change what we’re viewing. No device will make God any smaller or bigger.

“I AM WHO I AM,” God told Moses when he asked God His name (Exodus 3:14).

God is who He is—unchanging, eternal, holy, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, all-wise, infinite, good, faithful, merciful, loving, just, true, majestic, and sovereign.

Wow, that’s huge.

Are you using your spiritual binoculars the right way?

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You in all Your glory. Amen.

Rainbow over Smithport Friday, Oct. 16, 2015
Rainbow over Smithport Friday, Oct. 16, 2015

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 34

The Fruit of Kindness


The fruit of the Spirit is . . . kindness. – Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

Be kind and compassionate to one another. – Ephesians 4:31 (NIV)

When I was stopped behind a car waiting to make a left turn on a busy road last week, I was a bit antsy, especially since there was no left-turn lane. Left-hand turns, as you know, can be dangerous.

I was headed north—a tad late for my appointment—and there was no break in the steady southbound traffic. Time to practice that patience I talked about last week, huh?

Imagine my delight and surprise when a southbound vehicle stopped and gestured for the car in front of me to make the left turn. The driver didn’t have to do that—he had the right-of-way. It didn’t take but a few seconds and traffic was moving again.

Kindness is still alive and well in the world today despite the macabre headlines we read daily.

In the Old Testament, we read about a young widow, Ruth, who refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi, also a widow. Naomi and her family had moved from Israel to the land of Moab—not a country friendly to the Jews—during a time of severe famine. During their extended stay, both sons married Moabite women. Then Naomi’s husband died. Then both her sons.

Now, in those times, there wasn’t anyone more helpless than a widow. Girls were raised to become wives and mothers, so when they were widowed, they had to depend on relatives to support them.

Problem: Naomi was in a foreign land, far from relatives who could help her. So she decided to go back home. Her two Moabite daughters-in-law would go with her. But partway on the journey, Naomi told them to go back. She knew they’d have no future in Israel. One daughter-in-law turned back, but Ruth refused.

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you,” she said. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16–17).

What kindness!

Later on in the story, we read how Boaz, a relative of Naomi, showed kindness to Ruth because of her kindness to Naomi. To make a long story short, Boaz married Ruth, and the result of that union was a baby boy named Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David, from whose line the Messiah came.

Ruth had no idea what the extraordinary result of her kindness would be.

In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of a man who had opportunity daily to show kindness to a sore-covered beggar at his gate. But he didn’t. And he reaped the fruit of his unkindness.

What about you? Will you be like the rich man in Jesus’ parable, who was blind to the opportunity to show kindness? Or Ruth, whose kindness rippled through time and continues to bless us today?

Open my eyes, Lord, to the many opportunities I have each day to show kindness to others. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Ruth 2 and Luke 16:19–31. I encourage you to read the entire book of Ruth. It’s not long (only 4 chapters), but it’s a beautiful, heartwarming story.