What is your view or window on the world? Do you feel as if you are looking out from a cave in the Badlands like this pinhole photo taken by my cousin Douglas F. Frank, a renown landscape artist? The David of the Old Testament, while on the run from King Saul, had to hide in caves to escape his own demise from a demented King. “Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place” (2 Samuel 17:9). Living in a cave can take us back to the Neanderthals and primitive peoples. Caves remind us of bats and darkness. In his running David had a dark window on the world.
Yet, out of the cave we can also see light and clouds and sky. We can climb out of the cave into the overpoweringly bright sunlight if we want. Or we can continue to stay in the cave to protect ourselves from danger or being found out or from some other fear. I don’t know if you are living in a cave today? I don’t pretend to understand all your circumstances. In fact, as a teenager, I hid from the world and into an imaginary kind of life or cave where I would try to control the problems I was facing. I chose food as a control mechanism and so an anorexia-like eating disorder brought me to a frightening inward spiral of starvation, cave dwelling and eventual collapse. My choice was not a healthy one to run from the world, even though for I while I enjoyed the feeling of thinness while exercising to excess and being numbed by endorphins for peaceful pleasure. My body fell totally apart with stress fractures and metabolic dysfunction. I looked through a fat window of once being chided as an overweight and lazy kid. I tried to abnormally fanaticize a window where I would have a thin view. It took my physical collapse at a professional tennis tournament from which I was carried out by a family friend to realize that I had gone too far. My window was then covered with lies and fears, indeed rose colored.
We all have our coping mechanisms for dealing with life. My initial efforts had not been successful. So I tried alcohol since it was the family method of choice. Alcoholic families breed more for generations unless someone is willing to break the chain. My escape into wine, although “sophisticated” caused my personality to change, which was called out by my dear wife of 46 years. She had put up with it long enough. I knew that I could not find solace in the bottle, particularly as a Chaplain and AODA counselor. My testimony as a Christian was damaged by drinking, causing me also to have a meltdown with family members with whom I have had lifelong dysfunction. Abstaining with joy is the only way that I can describe it when I realized I must stop. It is wonderful to be able to concentrate completely on whatever the task without that distraction. One of my sons and also a first cousin has also quit, recognizing the dark draw of a family gene. We, and all of our relations are much better off for it. This window is much clearer now.
Life is hard and suffering and trials are a major theme we cannot escape. James, the brother of Jesus said, “Consider it pure joy when you come into trials of diverse kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance, which must finish its work so that you may mature and complete lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). This is one of the hardest passages in Scripture because we don’t want to hear it. But yes, valleys are a mainstay of life and we should walk through them regularly without fear. What? you might say, I fear the valleys. Well, that is the theme of this essay, fearing the world and its darkness in difficult choices. And that is seeing through the “Glass darkly” as Paul tells the Corinthians.
I obviously have not covered all the escapes folks have from worldly troubles like work addictions; I just mentioned a couple of my less successful ones. However, let’s now turn to how we do cope with stress, temptations and trials of all kinds. Do we run or hide? That is an inappropriate and usually only a temporary fix. We need wisdom and relationships to stay the course, and where do we find it? “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). God is Wisdom and truth as hundreds of Scriptures tell those who will listen. The above passage on trials is also followed by a verse of knowledge saying, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). He is our answer to all problems and trials in life. He must be our first “go-to” response before and in trouble. We need a Biblical worldview window to look through. God will tell us what and how to do it. He gives a more clear view of everything through a Biblical window.
A strong relationship with God and His word is an essential for succeeding in life. But we need relationships with skin on too. Having close family and friends is necessary. Chose friends carefully as we can’t chose family. Friends with a Biblical worldview are advisable. Also having an accountability brother or sister for women is my strong counsel. I have built such a relationship over the past 10 years. We both seek God and the Bible for guidance and share our struggles with each other in confidential prayer. I have written more about this important kind of relationship in my book, This is The Way, Walk in It (Vol. I). This 2-volume book deals with how to walk in a way that allows you to see through your window more clearly.
Our window on the world also needs to be clean and made of modern triple-pane glass to hold out the icy winters and torrid summers. Our prejudices and fears make the window harder to see through. That means we need to clean it off with hard work or help from a counselor or friends. And once cleaner we need to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Your window should view Christ and His promises for victory over the darkness. The Psalmist tells us that in His light we see light that pours in through the window like the Bright and Morning Star for those that choose Him. Spring is coming and a fresh warm breeze with it, so open your windows for the beauty of summer and the rest and restoration it can give us. But remember seasons change and you might need to close it from the coming hailstorm or heat.