I had a discussion with a good friend last night about looking at the glass as half full or half empty. Some people see life in all it’s darkness and gloom and hopelessness. Others see it as full of hope and promise. What makes the difference?
Some say it’s temperament—some of us are simply born with a propensity to look on the negative side while others can’t help but see the possibilities, even in the deepest pit. Interestingly, one of my favorite bloggers touched on this subject in her response to a comment at another site.
Apparently the commenter made reference to life being sustained by death. As he explained it,
all life on earth depends on the death of other creatures for its sustenance, from plants who use the decayed remains of animals and other plants, to the animal kingdom, where some kill plants to live, while others kill the plant-eaters to survive.
InsanityBytes, the blogger in question, had made the point that our focus determines our understanding. Those looking at death, see dead animals and dead plants instead of nourishing and delicious food. In the same way, those looking at the temporal are blind to God’s grandeur.
It’s a good point I think.
But I suspect there’s also the matter of our measuring stick. If we measure all things by the standard of humankind, then we shrink the world into manageable explanations and theories—physical things we can verify with our physical senses. All else, we simply reject.
Demons? Don’t be silly, there are no such things as demons? I know because I can’t see them, and my perceptions are the measure of what is real! No ghosts either. Or angels. And certainly there is no God! No heaven. Or hell. Or afterlife of any kind. Those things simply can’t be proven in physically verifiable ways, so someone had to make them up.
As soon as we recognize that humankind actually isn’t the measuring stick, that there might be things in existence that we don’t know or haven’t experienced or can’t comprehend or dissect or explain, then the world opens wide. Now there are spiritual possibilities we hadn’t conceived of, given our limited focus.
No longer are we locked in to the temporal; we can lift our eyes to the eternal.
But how can we?
This is where revelation comes in. It’s true that, by definition, the finite cannot know the infinite. We who are limited are incapable of understanding limitlessness. What is it like to live before time? To have no beginning or end? To never grow weary or tired? To have infinite power and wisdom and love and mercy and justice?
We need a snapshot, a story, an explanation—a revelation—to open up that which is beyond our ability to apprehend on our own. Even then we will be peering through a darkened window and glimpse only shadows of the reality.
But those shadows grow sharper the longer we look, the keener our eyesight. We focus. We stare unrelentingly at that which we know to be true though we can’t manipulate Him—for what we’re looking at is God—and we can’t force Him to act in ways that are more to our liking.
At some point we realize that the image of God is Jesus and He isn’t as murky as we first thought. We realize that He is the standard by which all is measured. In fact, no glass is half full or half empty. All are empty until filled with Living Water, and then they are never empty again.
Sadly, some people will insist on making humankind the measure of all things. They’ll never lift their sights any higher, never realize that humans don’t control the wind or the waves or the sun, moon, and stars.
Humans don’t dictate what is right and what is wrong; the moral code embedded in our hearts is not of our creation. We can ignore it or corrode it, but we can’t remove it any more than we can erase God by saying He doesn’t exist.
To those who refuse to look beyond humankind as the arbiter of reality, the glass will be leaking. Death does sustain life, but for how long? What happens when death overwhelms life? What happens when death overwhelms me? The adage is true: one out of one dies. But those of us who look to God and not to humankind know the last part of that statement: and then comes the judgment.
It’s a warning, not a condemnation. We have all already failed. The sentence has been delivered: guilty, destined to die, both physically and spiritually.
But Jesus stands in the gap.
He’s changed the Valley of Weeping into a spring, covered the dry ground with the waters of the early rain. He has done what we need in order that we might be restored to right standing with the Father, in order that we might walk in the newness of resurrection life instead of the deadness of our sinful condition.
Half full or half empty? Truly, the answer lies in our focus.