2 Chron. 7:14 ‘Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. ‘ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

We are in very interesting times here in the World of Covid. In March, when it hit, we were well into a year of sabbatical and it felt like the rest of the world suddenly joined us in our sabbatical. Since then, life has seemed like a painting that is out of proportion. I don’t know about you, but I have struggled to steer my mind clear of conspiracy theories about what is really going on… and yet, I know from the scriptures and the promptings of the Holy Spirit within me that things are going to be alright, if I can just take another look. Several pastors have been speaking very clearly that the only way forward in this new season is in humility.  The other day, Molly and I read the following story in our devotional time.

“In his book, The Vision and The Vow, Pete Greig tells of how a distinguished art critic was studying an exquisite painting  by the Italian Renaissance master Filippino Lippi. He stood in London’s National Gallery gazing at the fifteenth-century depiction of Mary holding the infant Jesus on her lap, with saints Dominic and Jerome kneeling nearby. But the painting troubled him. There could be no doubting Lippi’s skill, his use of colour or composition. But the proportions of the picture seemed slightly wrong. The hills in the background seemed exaggerated, as if they might topple out of the frame at any minute onto the gallery’s polished floor. The two kneeling saints looked awkward and uncomfortable.

Art critic Robert Cumming was not the first to criticize Lippi’s work for its poor perspective, but he may well be the last to do so, because at that moment he had a revelation. It suddenly occurred to him that the problem might be his. The painting had never been intended to come anywhere near a gallery. Lippi’s painting had been commissioned to hang in a place of prayer.

The dignified critic dropped to his knees in the public gallery before the painting. He suddenly saw what generations of art critics had missed. From his new vantage point, Robert Cumming found himself gazing up at a perfectly proportioned piece. The foreground had moved naturally to the background, while the saints seemed settled – their awkwardness, like the painting itself, having turned to grace. Mary now looked intently and kindly directly at him as he knelt at her feet between saints Dominic and Jerome.

It was not the perspective of the painting that had been wrong all these years, it was the perspective of the people looking at it. Robert Cumming, on bended knee, found a beauty that Robert Cumming the proud art critic could not. The painting only came alive to those on their knees in prayer. The right perspective is the position of worship.” Written by Nicky Gumbels.

Maybe it is not that the world has gone to hell in this season as much as it is the way we view it. Things look a lot differently when we look at them from our knees. One of the pastors out here in Redding put it something like this… Prayerlessness is one of the most glaring signs of pride and arrogance that exist. As we navigate the issues of our day, let us not look at them through a political or religious lens. Let us humble ourselves and pray and seek the Lord’s face and turn from our wicked ways. Then healing will come to our land. It all begins with humility and proceeds with prayer. Take time today on your knees. I am amazed how different it looks from down here.

Jon Stern

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