Sights and Insights
Devotion for Sept. 14, 2021
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.- 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NRSV)
Oh, the adventures of having a dog in the house! This afternoon, the boys were trying desperately to get Lance, our dog, to go upstairs. He could not figure out how to do it, though. We have a portable gate that we sometimes put at the bottom of the stairs when we want to keep him on one floor of the house. At this moment, though, the gate was swung open. It was not blocking the stairs at all; it was simply next to the stairs. It was, however, blocking Lance’s path to the stairs. The boys kept trying to get him to go around the gate to go up the stairs, but that required him to walk away from the stairs in order to go up them. Lance is a straight-line thinker. If he was supposed to go up the stairs, in his mind he needed to go straight there, not take a roundabout route.
After watching the impasse for a few moments, I walked over and moved the gate. The barrier removed, the dog went upstairs. Sometimes, to solve a situation you need to redefine the problem that needs solved. The boys were seeing the problem that they needed the dog to go up the stairs. They could not figure out how to get him to do it. I redefined the problem as being that the gate was blocking the way. That led to a straightforward solution of removing the obstacle, and everything was fine. It is not that I had some brilliant insight in this case. It was that I was watching from a bit of a distance and so could see what was going on a bit more broadly. The boys were in the middle of dealing with the situation and so did not have a wider perspective on the situation.
So often we find ourselves in a similar situation. In the midst of some challenge or crisis, we cannot see a way to get out of our problems. It is hard to get the needed space to consider what the problem really is. We get flustered and miss out on potential ways of dealing with what is going on. Prayer is many things and has a variety of important aspects, but one very practical aspect of regularly spending time in prayer is that it helps us gain needed perspective. By slowing down and talking through what is going on with God, we can begin to see more clearly our situation. Often we can see how we can reframe the situation and name the problem in a new way that is easier to solve. As we let go of our anxieties and give them over to God, we have the space to recognize new ways forward.