Look to Jesus Before you Panic
Gaining a Heavenly Perspective
I fly all around the world training people in TPM. I have no idea how many miles I have logged over the years. Most flights are without incident. However, now and then the ride can be rough due to turbulence or bad weather. I watch the reactions of people who are new to the air as they over-tighten their seat belts, grip their seats and close their eyes when this happens. I have comforted and reassured more than a few frightened people seated next to me during some of the more bumpy rides.
I have empathy for these shaken souls in that I have been there and felt those same feelings. However, I learned a little trick that completely calmed me down. I have learned to look to the flight attendant when the plane ride gets rough or if a strange noise occurs. I check to see how she or he is reacting. If they are calm and undeterred, then I know that we are fine. However, if they look concerned, then we might be in trouble.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus when in the midst of our life difficulties and to follow His example. He said it this way, “… looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus has the perfect perspective about our situation. Our reality is an interpretation based upon what we believe is happening (which may or may not be accurate). Whereas, His perspective is always based upon the truth of what is happening. If our perspective does not reflect His perspective, then ours needs to be corrected.
How do we have our perspectives corrected?
The first step is to identify where our perspective is contrary to His. Our emotional status will expose this for us. If we are panicked, worried, stressed, anxious, feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, desperate, distressed, etc. then our perspective does not reflect His. If we experientially believed what God has said concerning our reality, we would be at peace and filled with joy.
We often believe what our “eyes” tell us. The old adage “seeing is believing” seems true to many. The problem is, we quite often see through the lens of the lie-based core beliefs. We need the “eyes of our heart” enlightened so that we may see God’s reality; that is, true reality. The Apostle Paul gives us the proper viewpoint when he says, “… we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18) The only true reality is God’s perspective.
Perspective Requires More than Just Willful Choice
We cannot have God’s perspective simply by making a willful choice to have it. Perspective is an outcome of belief; not choice. And unlike intellectual belief that can be changed by simply gaining more credible information, experiential belief is corrected by having the Holy Spirit “open the eyes of our hearts.” If I believe experientially that I am worthless, then no measure of intellectual truth will dissuade me from this belief. Unless the Holy Spirit grants me His truth and perspective (that I have value to Him), I am stuck between what I know to be the truth intellectually (the Bible verses I have memorized) and my experiential lie-based core belief. However, if I can identify and own what I experientially believe and offer it to the Lord, He will shine His light into my heart and free me from the bondage of this lie-based belief.
One of the primary means God uses to bring about mind renewal and transformation is our many “crisis.” When the storms of life blow in, whatever we believe will be made evident through what we feel and how we behave. In TPM we call these moments being “triggered.” Our painful negative emotions are a clear indication of what we believe. If I am fearful, it is because I believe something that causes me to feel afraid. If I am worried and anxious, it is because I believe something that is causing me to feel this. It really is that simple. When life happens, I my core belief to interpret what is happening. When my core belief is touched it brings forth its corresponding emotion.
Sleeping or Perishing
A good mental picture to hold is Jesus asleep in the bow of the boat in the midst of the storm; all while His disciples are in a state of panic. Jesus and His disciples are in the same boat, in the midst of the same storm, but they clearly hold different viewpoints. When they wake Jesus up, the Lord asks them, “Why are you afraid?”
“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” Matt. 8:23-26
Do you see the similarity between the Lord’s question to his disciples and the MEMORY Box question “Why does that make you feel ____?” Jesus could have worded it, “Why does the storm make you feel afraid?” Jesus knew that His disciples were not afraid because of the storm; they were afraid because of their “little faith” or becasue of what they believed. Jesus was asking them to identify the belief that was producing their emotion. They replied, “We are about to perish!” Was this the truth? Were they indeed about to perish? Not at all. Jesus’ emotional status revealed the truth about their situation and He was asleep. Because Jesus did not believe that He was about to die, he could sleep in the same storm in which the disciples were being overwhelmed. So the next time you find yourself in a storm in a state of panic, ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” Once you identify the lie that you believe, maybe ask the Lord for His perspective. Just know you may have to wake Him up.
We Live in the Heavenly Reality, but We Just Don’t Know It
Jesus is always at peace, feeling confident, assured, filled with joy and at rest. Heaven is the only true reality and is actually our reality as well even when we think we are about to perish. The problem is, we believe something contrary to the heavenly view. Someone might say, “You do not understand, we are in the midst of a storm! We are about to perish.” Is that so? Look to Jesus. Is He panicked? If not, then why are we? Think back to all the times where you cried out, “I am about to perish!” Did you? If you are reading these words, then it was a lie; since you did not die after all. Nevertheless, those lies caused you to panic, worry, feel anxious, despair, give up, etc. Not to mention all the choices and decisions you made in the midst of the storm that were unprofitable. I can honestly say that the most stupid and foolish decisions I have made over the course of my life were made in the midst of my storm when I believed that I was “about to perish.” It is very hard to think clearly and make good decisions when in a state of emotional upheaval.
Someone may say, “What about the times when bad things do happen? The “storm” takes our loved ones from us, wipes out our possessions, we are unjustly treated, were beaten, robbed, violated, mistreated? This is our reality! This really happens!” Without question, things come our way that hurt us, take from us, and make our lives almost unbearable. However, it is important that we check our emotional status in these times. What is being exposed? How are we interpreting and understanding these difficulties? There is no working around the TPM principle that says, “We feel whatever we believe.” Our emotions are the outcome of how we interpret what is happening in the world around us. If I feel afraid, worried, anxious, overwhelmed, helpless, powerless, abandoned, etc. it is because I believe something that causes me to feel that way. Nevertheless, though my feelings are a good indication of what I believe to be true, they are not a good indication of what is true.
Allow the Bible to Speak
When I say what I am about to say, I am not being insensitive to people who suffer. I have had some measure of pain in my own life as well. Nonetheless, I still must allow the Scriptures to speak into this arena. How does the Bible say we should feel in times of difficulty? Does it give permission to feel helpless, powerless, overwhelmed, fearful anxious, worried, distressed, abandoned, or rejected? No. Rather, we are told to rejoice, exalt, give thanks and to glory in it. (Rom. 5:3, Jam. 1:2, Matt. 5:12, 1 Thess. 5:18) Some may say that it is impossible to do this in the midst of the storm. I agree that it is impossible to feel differently than what we believe. The only way we can do otherwise is by having the proper perspective or our belief transformed with His truth. It is impossible to genuinely rejoice, give thanks, or exalt, etc. if our belief runs contrary to God’s perspective.
However, when we experientially believe with a heavenly perspective; joy, exaltation and thanksgiving are spontaneous expressions of that which we believe. The Apostle Paul complained about his “thorn” until God gave him a heavenly perspective. Once this was established the apostle declared, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10) Because he held a heavenly perspective he said he was “well content” with being insulted, distressed, persecuted and suffering all manner of life difficulties. Without a heavenly perspective we live in misery.
What is Jesus Doing in the Midst of Our Storm
The writer of Hebrews said to look to Jesus. Where is Jesus right now? What is He doing? He is sitting next to the Father waiting for Him to dispatch Him to come back to the earth to deliver His bride. He is not filled with anxiety, worry, or fear about what is happening on the earth. If we are to look to Him as our model, then this is what we should be doing. But wait, according to the Scriptures this is what we are doing since, “… God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,…” (Eph. 2:6)
Take Responsibility for What You Feel
The next time you find yourself “about to drown” in your emotional pain, see if Jesus is not sound asleep in the bow of the boat. If He is at rest then all is well. Our negative reaction to the storm is exposing what we believe. As we learn to take responsibility for what is exposed and choose to hold this “little faith” up to the Lord, we can hear Him say “Peace, Be still.”