Use Your Binoculars – The RIGHT Way

Oh, magnify the LORD with me.  —Psalm 34:3 NKJV

Except for a few last-minute items, the camper was packed for our final camping trip of the year. Although rain was in the forecast, we hoped it would hold off long enough for us to hike one of the trails we hiked the previous spring—the Buzzard Swamp Trail in the Allegheny National Forest.

Experiencing nature, to me, is experiencing God. On our hikes, I stop frequently to enjoy the scenic view, listen to the calls of wildlife or the ripple of a brook, or inhale the scent of pine and humus—and thank the Creator for His awesome work. 

Before we set out, we stuff a backpack with our lunch, water bottles, protein snacks, and raingear. We take my walking stick, the camera—and the binoculars. 

We don’t want to forget the binoculars, like we did on one hiking trip. Without them, we miss so much. With them, we can see things in the distance closer, clearer and bigger—that is, if we use them the right way. 

Now, who in their right mind would use binoculars the wrong way? While it does take some fiddling with the dial to adjust the view, it doesn’t take a member of Mensa to know how to use field glasses. It’s pretty obvious which part you hold up to your eyes. If you hold the wider end to your eyes, though, the view becomes smaller, more distant.

We have “binoculars” to help us to see God better, too—nearer, clearer, and bigger. But I fear sometimes we use them the wrong way and thus perceive God as distant, fuzzy, and little. 

One type of spiritual binocular is prayer. Talking to God doesn’t actually bring Him closer, just like binoculars don’t bring what you’re looking at through them physically closer. But they do help you to see distant things as though they were nearer. Remember, God is always with you (Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 139), whether or not you feel His presence. The binoculars of prayer, though, bring you closer to God. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Another type of spiritual binocular is Scripture. As I spend more time in God’s Word, my perception of Him becomes clearer. 

Another type of spiritual binocular is nature itself. I see God in the sky, the trees, the wind, the rain, the rainbow—everything in nature reflects the Creator, who is much, much bigger than the God I can only imagine. The universe—the heavens, the earth, and all of space and what it contains—cannot contain Him. He is infinite, not limited by space or time.

The problem is sometimes we use the binoculars the wrong way. We hold the wider end to our eyes—and get a much smaller view. 

Maybe some folks are content with a small view of God. It makes them more comfortable, feeling more in control.

But remember, the binoculars are simply a device to improve our perception—it doesn’t change what we’re viewing. No device will make God any smaller or bigger. 

“I AM WHO I AM,” God told Moses when he asked God His name (Exodus 3:14). 

God is who He is—unchanging, eternal, holy, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, all-wise, infinite, good, faithful, merciful, loving, just, true, majestic, and sovereign.

Wow, that’s huge.

Are you using your spiritual binoculars the right way?

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You in all Your glory. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 34.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. 

Image from Pixabay.

Footlogs and Phobias

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—Where does my help come from? —Psalm 121:1 NIV

One of the trails my husband and I hiked on our camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains was the Kephart Prong Trail. Littered with golden leaves, it wound through the forest two miles up a mountain along a gurgling creek and several waterfalls to a hiking shelter near the summit.

The trail crossed the creek at several places—four to be exact. Bridge number one was a nice one-lane footbridge constructed of wooden planks with a log railing on one side. I crossed it no problem.

Then we got to the second bridge, but it wasn’t called a bridge—it was called a “footlog”—a split log about 25 feet long spanning the creek 10 feet below. It, also, had a log railing on one side only, which, in places, arched away from the bridge.

I’ve always had a fear of heights. When I was nine, my father had to peel me off the second landing of a fire tower because I was screaming and clinging to the steel grate in terror. I never overcome my acrophobia.

On the first bridge I was fine. I felt secure on the wooden planks. But stepping on a narrow log with moss growing on it was another story.

While my sweet hubby was too busy taking pictures of this historic event to be of any help should I fall into the rushing stream below and knock myself out on a rock, I focused on a point on the log about three feet in front of me, put one hiking boot in front of the other, used my walking stick for balance, and counted my steps aloud. And, of course, ignored Shutterbug behind me.

Then we came to the second footlog—green with moss, gray with age and missing chunks of wood—scarier than the first one. Using my focus and counting technique and ignoring the fear, I made it across, even though the couple behind us turned back when the woman refused to cross it.

The third footlog looked newer, like it had just been built. It should have been a piece of cake by now, but I was still scared.  

I wasn’t any less afraid crossing the footlogs on the return trip as I had been going up.

But I learned something. I didn’t overcome my fear—I walked through it.

We all set out on a trail called life. It goes up and down, winds over rocky and smooth terrain. Along the way we encounter our fears.

But we don’t have to turn back. We don’t have to overcome our fear, either—indeed, sometimes you can’t. But by taking one step at a time, focusing on what’s just ahead, using God’s Word for balance, and having faith in what’s at the end of your journey, you can walk through it.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? From You, Father God, the maker of the mountains and my guide through this hike called life. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 121.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.