Kati Metro, 74, was hiking near Phoenix, Arizona, when she fell, injuring her face, wrist, and hip. A rescue helicopter flew in, and workers strapped her to a stretcher. Unfortunately, the winds were fierce, and a line failed that was supposed to prevent the stretcher from spinning as they pulled it up to the helicopter. The incident, which was caught on camera, was terrifying. Kati, suspended horizontally on the stretcher, started spinning around faster and faster, like the runaway hands of a clock — over 170 times in two minutes. She survived the ordeal, although she was dizzy for several days. The video transfixed social media, and I wonder if it was because, as horrifying as the experience was, it’s a bit of an analogy about how a lot of people feel right now.
They trudge through life, have a fall, encounter difficulties, and suddenly their lives spin out of control. They feel they’re at the end of their ropes, dangling dangerously in high winds. Life can be truly dizzying if you lose your perspective.
Anchored in Christ
Two things make all the difference in keeping life in perspective. First, we have to be anchored in Christ. Kati started spinning out of control when the line became disconnected that anchored her rescue basket. Hebrews 6:18-20 says that we — who know Christ — can lay hold of the hope set before us. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus.”
When we come to Christ, we’re throwing the rope of faith into the heavenly place, and our anchor snags onto Christ, the immovable Rock.
Warren Wiersbe said, “The anchor was a popular symbol in the early church. At least sixty-six pictures of anchors have been found in the catacombs…. However, this spiritual anchor is different from material anchors on ships. For one thing, we are anchored upward — to heaven — not downward. We are anchored not to stand still, but to move ahead! Our anchor is “sure” — it cannot break — and “steadfast,” it cannot slip. No earthly anchor can give that kind of security!” This is the wonderful experience of being totally committed to Jesus Christ. We have to come to Him and say, “Lord, I want all of You to have all of me. You gave Your life for me, and I am anchoring my life in You.” That’s the starting place for maintaining a healthy perspective.
Focused on Scripture
The other element is staying focused on Scripture. Our world is forcing too much clutter into our brains. The world is screaming at us. We obsess over social media. The all-news stations open every story with “breaking news” banners. People are more polarized than ever; and, on top of all that, we have mindless entertainment flowing like polluted streams across our devices and into our minds.
How can we keep our perspective in the midst of it all? We begin by learning to focus on Scripture. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”
Let’s take up that word “meditate.” I’m surprised how allergic a lot of Christians are to the practice of meditation. The world has stolen that word, and now identifies it with Eastern mysticism. But the word meditation is a biblical word, having to do with what we mull over, what we ponder, what we think about.
The Bible tells us repeatedly to meditate on the Word of God. Or, as Paul puts it here, to think on things that are:
- True. Jesus said, “I am… the truth” and “Your word is truth” (John 14:6 and 17:17). Truth is whatever aligns with the facts flowing from Jesus and His unfailing Word.
- Noble. This word means “honorable, worthy of being honored, worthy of respect.” Does that describe most of our screen viewing or most of our thoughts? We must learn to align our mental patterns with things that are noble. James 2:7 says that the people of the world “blaspheme that noble name by which [we] are called,” referring to the name of Jesus.
- Just. This word means “right” or “righteous or whatever conforms to godly morality.” The angels in heaven sing, “Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!” (Revelation 15:3)
- Pure. If something is pure, it contains no traces of contamination. Psalm 12:6 says, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”
- Lovely. Things that are lovely are satisfying to our senses. They give us pleasure. Hymnist Grant Colfax Tullar wrote, “Oh precious Jesus, how lovely Thou art! Come and abiding, rule in my heart.”
- Of Good Report. Some translations have admirable or commendable instead of “good report.” In 2 Thessalonians 1:10, Paul talked about the day when Jesus will come “to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe.”
- Virtuous. The word here means “excellence of character, outstanding goodness.” Second Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”
- Praiseworthy. This means, “something or someone worthy of high commendation and praise.” The psalmist said, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3).
These, then, are the things on which we’re to meditate, and that alone clarifies our perspective and keeps our focus. How, then, do we meditate on these things? Nothing will help you stay anchored and more focused this year than learning the art of biblical meditation.
First, spend time every day before an open Bible. You cannot meditate on what you don’t read or study. Disconnect for a few minutes from the cluttered noise of life and be still and know that He is God. Close your door and open your Bible. As you read, underline any verses that speak to you or make notes in your tablet, your journal, or the margin of your Bible. Train your mind to notice each word of the text you’re reading.
Second, make a note of the verses that speak the most to you. You might want to use notecards and sticky notes, or you may keep a list on your smartphone. The point is, don’t close your Bible and go into your day forgetting what you learned during your time of meditation. Recall those truths throughout your day.
Third, discipline your mind to think about that verse or passage when you’re preparing for the day. Some surveys say that most of us don’t think any more except when we’re showering or driving, or perhaps while running, jogging, or walking. If so, let the Scriptures circulate through your mind during those times. It’s as practical as this —when you turn on the hot and cold water and step into the shower, take your Bible verse along. Instead of letting your mind run to all your upcoming obligations, say to yourself, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Think about what that means. Audibly recite Scripture to yourself.
Fourth, keep your favorite verses with you throughout the day. Check them on your smartphone as often as you check your social media. Memorize some of them.
Finally, reflect upon those verses as you go to bed and fall asleep at night. Let your final thoughts be of Jesus and His Word, which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and worthy of praise.
Let me end with a good verse to start the new year with — Psalm 31:15: “My times are in Your hand.” Charles Spurgeon meditated on this verse, and he said, “‘My times, these change and shift;’ but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with whom is no variableness nor shadow of a turning. ‘My times,’ that is to say, my ups and my downs, my health and my sickness, my poverty and my wealth — all those are in the hand of the Lord, who arranges and appoints according to his holy will…And we are glad it is so.”
Don’t let life spin out of control this year. Keep life in perspective. Stay anchored to Christ and focused on Scripture. Set your mind on things above, for your times are in His hands.