The view is always better @ the top.
In his book Ten Steps Ahead, Erik Calonius explores the question of ‘what separates successful business visionaries from the rest of us?’ One thing that sets them apart, he writes, is the ability to recognize patterns. But its not the number of patterns that account for visionary insight, its the quality of the patterns. Visionaries are able to perform ‘cognitive rock climbing,’ scaling ever to higher patterns so that they can set their gaze further.
The example he gives is Shirley Polykoff, one of Madison Avenue’s “Mad Men” of advertising, who held her own as one of the smartest copyrights in New York City. She “had a knack for finding the highest, most sublime thought — pushing from one pattern up to the next–until she found the emotional hook that made the idea sing. Her most successful product was Miss Clairol hair lightening. How did she succeed with it? What is Clairol? A hair dye. What’s the higher thought than that? It lightens your hair. What’s the higher thought than that? Blondes have more fun. This advertising hook sent thousands of women lining up at stores across the world to buy Clairol.
Thoughts are incredibly powerful. As I’ve said before, problem emotions often come from problem thinking. When we rehearse negative thoughts about ourselves it has long-lasting emotional consequences. Often times our interpretation of events is warped and we use faulty thinking as the lens through which we view ourselves and others. Thus, a huge part of heart-work is examining your thought-life, and learning to climb higher.
The Bible is full of theological truths so lofty that you could spend a lifetime climbing to their heights, but the higher we go … the more we focus on those theological truths within our minds and hearts, they heal us. The Psalmist said it this way: “I have hidden your words in my heart, that I might not sin against you, O God.” The Apostle Paul wrote it this way: “do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The great truths of Scripture represent some of the highest summits from which we can view our circumstances, our situations, our past, our relationships, and our future most clearly. But we must always continue climbing.
One example (among thousands) of this in my life was that I was incredibly angry at someone. This was the kind of deep anger that eroded away at your spirit… a poison that changes the way you see everyone. In fact, it had gotten so bad that I was exacting punishment upon anyone that still associated with that person who I felt had hurt me. I was out for blood, for anyone and everyone that would cross my path.
Then one day I was praying for God to speak to me, to take away my anger, and a higher thought suddenly stabbed into me: “Luke, what you feel like that person did to you, you do to me every day.” The higher thought was that I am a sinner too. We are all sinners.
Then another higher thought: “and even though you do that to me every day, I still choose to forgive you.” The higher thought was that God relentlessly forgives us even when we continue to rebel against him.
Then a step higher … “Luke, to the extent that you forgive, you will be forgiven.”
In that moment I got down on my knees and literally wept. And for the first time in a long time, I finally felt that I could see clearly.
In the journey of the heart, God wants to take us higher … to show us reality as he sees it, and to help rescue us from small and nearsighted thinking. Most of this small thinking it was has led us to where we are, thinking that we have a clear view of life and of ourselves in the valley, at the bottom of the mountain. But as we begin to meditate on God’s truth, as we begin to let the light of his Word shine into our thoughts, the lies and negativity we have rehearsed are exposed, and he takes us to high thoughts that hook us emotionally and forever change the way we live.
So my prayer for you in this work of heart is that you will open your mind, and open the Scriptures, and go on a hike with God. It will be difficult, long, and arduous, and you will squirm and thirst and fight and at times think about quitting. Keep going! Ask for help from other hikers if you need to!
Because the view is always better at the top. 🙂