Years ago I was a student at the University of North Texas. I was one of those students who arrived early and staked out his claim, a front row seat. I believed all the people who had extolled to me the virtue of being up front, being engaged and being visible. To put it another way, being known. I still believe it was wise advice, but I am also thankful for a challenge that came later. “Don’t sit in the same chair once this semester,” it counseled. “Change where you sit every day.”
I tried it.
The view from some seats was very similar, but in other places it changed the whole experience. One seat might provide an attractive distraction, another a murmur that threatened to drown out the professor at any time, another the encouragement of other attentive students, and still another the droning snore of someone who’d stayed out far too late the night before. That experience, though I didn’t completely realize it at the time, began teaching me a lesson. It’s helpful to change your perspective every now and then.
I often marvel at the variety of views represented within a diverse group of people. Each one sees the same image in a different light. Their various lights cast by personal experience, culture and their unique background. I’ve come to believe that each of these views together reveal the true image, but alone they are incomplete. It’s the reason we benefit so much from changing seats. It puts us in a position to see things through a different light. It changes our perspective, and that, even when it is forced upon us, is a blessing. I experienced this again last night when I attended a traditional church service for the first time in a few months. Considering the size and reputation of this church, I was a little surprised. The musical arrangements seemed rushed. There was no place for the music to breathe despite its demands to do so. The message, while good, was not nearly as polished as I’ve become accustomed to. It rambled on in a manner similar to my own preaching. Something I’ve often felt needs work. But, for the first time in a long time those thoughts, while present, were not the focus. As most of you know, I’ve spent some time away from church as I’ve known it. It’s changed my perspective. Instead of seeing only those deficiencies, I found my eyes looking around and seeing something more than professionals. I saw a room full of people who love each other and love God. I saw a room full of family, and so I smiled, lifted my head and joined in our song of worship to the God of the Universe we all love so dearly.
Thank God for changed perspectives!