"Put that board upright through the saw!" instructed the master woodworker. His worker listened carefully and then dutifully put the board through the saw — with its narrow side up. To him, this was the upright position. But he was wrong — dangerously wrong. He could have lost his fingers!
How could such a conscientious, skilled worker fail to obey his boss aright that day? The master woodworker knew exactly. One day, I heard him describe the episode from his perspective. He added this simple statement: "All he had to do was see the finished product in his mind; then he would have known which side was up."
It's simple. The boss saw the finished product in his mind. The worker simply needed to interpret the instruction through his boss's viewpoint — not his own.
It's no different with our understanding of the Christian calling. Our heavenly Master instructs us to "put the board upright through the saw". But what's upright in God's eye may not look upright in our eye. What's the top priority to God may not be to us. And so, we put the board through in the wrong way — our way. It's harmful in the long run. Besides, it doesn't fit right with the picture of the finished product: God's big plan for humanity, His covenant promise of redemption.
To live God's way for us requires seeing God's perspective.
2 Corinthians 4:18 – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (NIV)
In essence, this is about worldview — an entire perspective of reality.
Our Western culture has flipped the board for us: The material world is on top. That includes everything associated with natural realities: the temporal, finite, physical, whatever we see with our natural eye. The spiritual "side" of reality is merely one edge of the board — it doesn't show anyway; it's merely subjective. (You've heard such arguments.) On the bottom side of the board is God-reality.
That's how we instinctively "run the board through the saw". In other words, it's the way that we run our thoughts; it's the way that we process information; it's the way that we make decisions. It seems right in our eye — that is, to the extent that we are shaped by our Western world.
In a woodworking project, of course, every side of the board matters. Natural things do matter. Temporal needs matter. But that's not on top. In the big picture, only one side is kept in view. "Seek first the kingdom of God", Jesus says (Matthew 6:33a NKJV). "Steep your life in God-reality," The Message puts it. And then, all the other "sides" will fall into place.
Here are some practical applications:
1. When we get fretful, we can ask ourselves, "Which side of the board have I put on top? Where have I put the God side?"
2. When we are trying to discern other people's teachings or ideas, we can ask ourselves, "Which side of the board have they put on top: the material side? The God side?" This is an effective way to spot false prophets.
3. We can avoid misinterpreting Scripture if we learn to see it from our heavenly Master's perspective.
You can think of other applications. Why not share some with the rest of us — for our benefit?
Prayer: Dear Lord, may the eyes of our hearts be enlightened so that we may see "the top of the board": the hope to which we are called, the riches of Your glorious inheritance, and Your incomparably great power for us who believe. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Jesus Shall Reign" (Lyrics)