I wish that trees could talk. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a desire to speak to ALL inanimate objects, just trees. Just think of all they’ve seen, all the days they’ve been quiet observers standing stately in the forest, all the woodland creatures they call friends. There are trees that have lived longer than any human alive right now. I want to hear their stories and know what they have witnessed and the storms they’ve endured.
I have a friend who shares my love of trees and inspired me to start photographing them from the bottom looking up into them. I’m definitely not a professional photographer, but I love looking at everyday things from an unusual perspective--you can see beauty in things you may not have otherwise noticed at all.
Perspective is a fickle concept. Everyone’s is different and fluctuates due to any given number of factors. I am fairly short, so I don’t really have a concept of how tall other people are because I can’t tell from WAY down where I am. A 5’10” person looks the same as a 6’3” person to me. The same goes for the tree. When I stand at the bottom and look up, I see the tree from a different perspective than if I were flying over the trees in an airplane (then they all look like little broccolis).
God’s perspective is unique and can seem backward in the world’s estimation. For example, God says if you want to be the greatest, be the least and that you should pray for your enemies and those that mistreat you.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways.”
It’s very clear that God’s perspective is not the same as ours. His perspective is eternal and not temporal, and His thoughts are not ours. So, how can we gain more of God’s perspective and less of the world’s? The easiest way is to look up!
But my eyes are upon You, O God the Lord; In You I take refuge; Do not leave my soul destitute. Psalm 141:8
Fix your gaze on Him. Purpose your thoughts toward Him. Take refuge in Him. Be near to Him. We have so many things competing for our attention throughout the day. What things are stealing your gaze from God? What are you holding in carnal perspective that should be illuminated in heavenly perspective instead?
Daniel 4 tells an interesting story of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar who has a dream that plagues him, so he enlists Daniel to tell him his dream and the interpretation of it. He dreams of a large tree that grew strong and tall until it reached to the sky. It was visible to the end of the whole earth! It had beautiful foliage and produced abundant fruit and was food for all. The animals found shade beneath it, the birds nestled in its branches, and all living creatures fed themselves from it. But then he dreams that an angel descends from heaven and chops down the majestic tree, cuts off its branches, strips its leaves, and scatters its fruit, leaving only the stump with its roots in the ground. What a sad end to this beautiful tree. But what did it mean?
The tree represented Nebuchadnezzar. He had become great and grown strong and he was known to the end of the earth, but God decreed that he would be driven away from mankind and would dwell with the beasts of the field and eat grass like cattle until he recognized that God was the ruler of his kingdom and bestows it on whomever he wishes. The stump represented that the kingdom would be left and assured to Nebuchadnezzar after he recognized the true God. Daniel entreated the king to repent now before this had to happen to his kingdom.
Nebuchadnezzar didn’t repent, though. Within a year, Nebuchadnezzar boasts, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built?” While the word was in the king’s mouth, the dream was fulfilled. He was driven away from mankind, ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with dew from heaven and his hair and his nails grew to epic proportions.
Here’s the rest of the story:
“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” Daniel 4:34-37
Did you catch what Nebuchadnezzar’s first action was when he was ready to repent … he raised his eyes toward heaven. That was a sign of his humility. He was no longer looking down into the dirt or around at his circumstances, he looked up to the only One who could remedy his state. He changed his perspective.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
You’ve heard that you should stop and smell the roses. We would do well to remember to stop and look up at the trees--to remind us that there’s a bigger perspective that craves our focus--God’s.