As I was walking from one building to another at work recently, I looked up and was surprised by what I saw. There, right in front of me, was our gorgeous, historic county courthouse. It was framed in by a beautiful summer sky and nearly took my breath away. It was magnificent. Why did this surprise me? Was this the first time that I ever laid eyes on this building? Had something changed about it? I've lived in this town basically my entire life. I drive past this courthouse everyday. I've been in this courthouse. I've even taken a photo or two of this very courthouse. It hasn't really changed at all in the thirty years that I've lived here. So why was I taken back by seeing it all of a sudden?
One of the reasons that I was so taken back by the courthouse that day is that I realized how little I look up when I'm walking. For the last several months since I moved to a different office, I walk toward the courthouse everyday, but this was the first time I ever looked up and realized what a perfect view I have of it. It made me wonder how many other amazing things I'm missing as I hurriedly walk and drive from place to place in my daily life. If I hadn't stopped to notice the most iconic structure in my hometown that was just a few hundred yards away, surely I've missed many other things. I am now trying to get in the habit of walking with my eyes up, instead of down at the ground or at my phone. I'm missing the beauty of an old building or the warm smiles of an elderly couple as I rush past them. These are things I need to be taking more notice of.
Another reason that the courthouse stopped me in my tracks is that I instantly realized how rarely I stop to appreciate the many wondrous things I've been blessed with. It created this inclination in me to stop, to look up, and to take a moment to soak in the beauty around me more often. Going past this monument almost everyday for thirty years has caused it to become mundane and ordinary. Now, I suddenly wanted to walk through my town and see what else I was overlooking and maybe snap some pictures of the scenery. I was eager to call my wife to hear her voice (which I did) and I wanted to take the rest of the day off to be with her and my sons (which I did not). The point is that I now wanted to "look up" much more often to not only notice, but to appreciate all that God has blessed me with.
You are probably thinking, "you got all of that from a courthouse?". Yes I did, and I'm thankful. I often blaze through the routine of life and hope that once in a while I'll experience something extraordinary. But God took a building that I go past on a daily basis to remind me that everyday is extraordinary. I am blessed with so many amazing things (not just good views) that I simply take for granted far too often.
Are you as guilty as I am? Have you been overlooking the beauty all around you? Have you let extraordinary things become ordinary? Join me in "looking up" and appreciating our beautiful lives more often. Let's take more opportunities to stop and thank God for his many blessings. I'm going to snap a few more pictures from now on. But I'm also going to keep the phone in my pocket more because the more I look down at it, the more I am going to miss; the smiles on my sons' faces, a visit with an old friend, a sunny afternoon, the touch of my wife's hand. The list goes on and on of the extraordinary things that I'm blessed with, but rarely appreciate.
So here's to slowing down and enjoying the wonderful life we've been given!
Here's to looking up!
Patrick A. Thomson
We are getting to the point in the year where there will be many nights spent outside with only the moonlight to guide our way. Whether it is a bonfire on the church grounds or a night stroll through your neighborhood, there is something alluring about the moon at night. It's as if the world has its own nightlight to help those of us that were not gifted with night vision. It's a phenomenon that has origins not only in human nature, but also in the animal kingdom. I'm sure you've seen some footage of coyotes howling at the moon or at least seen it on those interesting t-shirts that have them printed on the front. The moon has always been a point of illumination when everything around is dark and unclear.
The truly interesting part about the moon is something that we never think about though. What we see when we witness the beaming brilliance of the moon on a dark night isn't at all the actual product of the moon. Sure, the physical features of the moon including its craters and crevasses add beautiful character to the nightlight of the dark. However, the part that makes the moon possible to be used as a guiding light on a night hike or a point of interest when looking through a telescope has no actual origin with the moon. What am I saying here? The moon has no light of its own. It is simply the reflection of the light of the sun. It wouldn't matter one bit how amazing the moon looked if it didn't have the light of the sun giving it the spotlight every night. It's the same way with us and the Son of God.
Not only across the Christian movement, but also in each of our local churches there are many individuals that have incredible characteristics. Those that can deliver a brilliantly crafted message or make a new guest feel completely at home or even those of us that are stellar at cleaning the toilets. Regardless of your occupation, your positioning in the kingdom makes all the difference. I'm not talking about political hierarchy or climbing the ladder of jobs at your local assembly. The positioning that I am referencing is the point where the things you do are an immediate reflection of the Son of God. If we can get to the point in our everyday lives where the only position we are striving for is to amplify the savior of our sinful nature, I feel that the church would have no possible effect but to grow. Ephesians 5:8 says "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: Walk as children of light". We have a clear purpose to be a light to this world, if we can only get the positioning right.
Amplify Christ over everything else today,