Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lessons from a Drone

As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day I came across a beautiful video of Oregon City during our recent snow storm, all of which was captured on a drone. Drones have become quite popular the past several years as they are being made and manufactured for the general public to explore with. It's amazing to see footage from a drone of various places in the world. We are being exposed to a perspective we've not had the opportunity to view on our own until recently, relatively speaking. Sure, when we've watched movies over the years we have been able to see what the big budget films can give us from high up in the sky. But now we, the average person, have the ability to afford a drone and discover it for ourselves. Maybe not to the same degree as a major motion picture, but still pretty cool for us amateur movie makers.

I have lived in Oregon City nearly all my life, except for an eight year stint from '91-'99. Oregon City, to me growing up, was average. I didn't necessarily think it was anything extra special, other than it was the end of the Oregon Trail, has a pretty cool elevator connecting the lower part of Oregon City to the higher elevated part, and some pretty cool dams. It has grown quite a bit during my 44 years of life and continues to. It's a nice town with friendly people who have seen trauma and tragedy, but pulled through. The trauma of two young girls kidnapped and murdered on their way to and from school, and the '96 flood disaster that affected many homes and businesses, just to name a few. But it is a town that has triumphed and carried on in spirit and determination, never wavering.

Oftentimes the problem with living in a town that has some pretty neat sights, is that the locals take it for granted and don't explore what's right in front of them. I think I've visited the viewing spot for the falls maybe twice, ridden in the OC Elevator a couple times. and have never been to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. I figure, it's here, I'll go to it someday, I'll get around to it..... I'm not going anywhere. But at least for me, that's not true. I haven't taken full advantage of what's right in front of me. But when I watched the video of Oregon City blanketed in snow, I came to realize what a beautiful town I live in. Sure, the snow made it all the more pristine, but it also gave me a perspective I had never seen before. My eyes took in views I never could have witnessed if it weren't for the drone that captured the beauty that surrounds me. These were vistas and panoramic views I had never considered, let alone captured with just my eyes of limited vision. As I was finally acknowledging all of this during the video, I had an 'aha' moment about perspective and how Heavenly Father sees little 'ol me, not to mention each and every soul that has lived on earth, and this is what has occupied my thoughts since observing Oregon City in the eyes of a drone.

Before I dive into my thoughts on how Heavenly Father and drones are similar in perspective, let me back up by explaining a fundamental truth I grew up with. I know who I am. I am a child of God, and I know that I have divine potential to one day become like Him. That in and of itself is worthy of another blog post, but I feel it is important to understand where I'm coming from as I share my thoughts and feelings about perspective. I have always known that God is loving and cares for ME just as much as he cares for YOU. That said, there have been times in my life where I have felt I needed that reassurance made more evident, than at other times. Don't we all need reminders from time to time how much we are loved? Whether it be from our spouse, children, parents, friends, and even God? God's love for us never ceases, but perhaps there are times where we fail to consistently acknowledge it. The times in which I feel we underestimate God's love for us is when we see the worst in ourselves, when we are not perfect in our words or actions, when we have made mistakes and fallen and can't seem to get up and stay up.

I saw Oregon City in a new light as I watched the drone fly over landscapes I've seen all my life, at least through my narrow vision of looking only straight ahead but not overhead, yet never really thought much of. The snow somehow made it more beautiful. It was different, it caught my attention. Was it ugly underneath the snow? Not necessarily. However, when the snow falls at my house I enjoy the beauty it brings for the brief moment it's covered the landscaping that's not yet finished, or the pallets and wire that are strewn about, or the pot holes in the driveway. When it slowly melts it looks messy again. The drone caused me to reflect on how much Heavenly Father loves me, no matter what I look like, what I've done. He sees me from a perspective I rarely, if ever, see in myself. He sees all of me... those times when I'm at my best, covered in white, beautiful soft snow, and the days when I'm at my worst when the snow has melted and I don't feel so great, feel unworthy of His love and acceptance, when I feel disappointed and want to hide deep in the earth where it's dark. It's not just that he does see ALL of me, but rather HOW He still feels about me regardless of what I'm going through in my life. His perspective is deeper and broader than mine. His knowledge of who I am to Him right now, not just who I have the potential to become is greater than my own understanding.

Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." What a beautiful passage. What comforting words to the weary soul. What a relief that our thoughts are NOT His thoughts, nor our ways His ways. He sees the 'whole' of us, not just the narrow view we find ourselves in. He has the perspective we lack, and how we need His perspective. It is in His view we find hope, grace, love, acceptance, mercy, encouragement, the list goes on and on. He sees what we cannot see, or what we won't see. What if we allowed ourselves to see in us, what He knows we are capable of? Would our attitude adjust accordingly? Would our countenance shine with the hope of God's love pouring over us? Would we pull ourselves up from the despair or disappointment we feel and choose to see what God sees?

Now compare the Oregon City video with this video of Auschwitz and the Nazi Concentration camp. The drone captures the haunting landscape where millions of innocent men, women and children died under the hands of an evil man. The stories born out of that camp are plentiful and disturbingly heart-wrenching. But there are many beautiful stories of heroism, God-fearing individuals who didn't let an ugly, evil, dark place take over their souls. How could something beautiful come from such an ugly place? As I've read about Corrie ten-Boom, her sister Betsy, Viktor Frankl, and many others who lived in various concentration camps under vile conditions I've come to understand that in the deepest despair we might find ourselves, we can find God right there with us. As God looked down on the Nazi camps and watched His children starve to death, be tortured to death, killed in gas chambers, I am sure he saw an ugly camp with evil guards, soldiers and leaders. But beneath all the appalling acts of torture and deprivation He also saw the beauty and growth that could occur when we lean on Him, and He alone.... not man.  Watching the drone fly over areas of Auschwitz and realizing what happened inside that camp our thoughts can be consumed with horror. But if we watch it again thinking about the people who survived and lived to tell about it and consider their experience of feeling God in the midst of such evil, then our perspective changes.

Corrie ten-Boom's sister Betsy told her one night in the camp, "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." How could she have felt that way under those circumstances? How did she feel God's love? Did she question Him as to why she had to suffer such atrocities when she had only tried to help the Jewish people? Did she blame Him? Did she question where God was in all of this? Did she hate Him? No. She understood what God understood. She knew right where He was right there with her giving her strength to go on, giving her the mental capacity to acknowledge what was happening and allow His works to be made manifest through her. His works did not consist of the evil that surrounded her. His works involved using her to share His gospel to others in the camp, to use her example of how God still hears and answers prayers in even the most unimaginable circumstances. He was showing that no matter how physically dirty they all were, how helpless they were feeling, that He was right there with them. Regardless of how and when each of them would die, they would go home to Him who would receive them and show them what He has always seen. He was using her for His purpose to share light and life with others, in a place where light did not shine and where all felt lifeless and life could be taken in an instant. She understood His perspective.

For the past year I have had the opportunity in my church to work closely with the women in our congregation. It has been an interesting experience as I have been able to serve closely with these women and seek to try to understand them better. I have been able to see my fellow sisters in a different light, in a way I had not seen before. My number one goal is to try to see each of them as God sees them. If we did that we would have more compassion and understanding for one another. Why is that? It is because he has the grander view, the view we do not see. He has the vision our eyes lack. Trying to acquire the perspective God has takes time and effort, but it is possible. He isn't hiding his expectations from us. He knows what we are capable of, regardless if we are covered with snow or a mess with conflict and self-doubt. God sees the bigger picture and He wants us to help draw the moments that make up that portrait if we let Him in to help guide us. Because I know that I am His daughter, I know that I was made for bigger things than myself. I hope someday to see all what He sees in me. I am grateful I was scrolling through Facebook and found a beautiful video taken from a drone that has helped enlighten my understanding and perspective of what God sees in me.

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