Recently, the basketball teams at Mountainveiw International Christian School competed in an international school tournament. Travel in Indonesia is slow. The bus trip took around eight hours. The teams both played well in the tournament. For the boys team, this meant easily winning the tournament while the girls team lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions. I had hoped that the third day tournament would have resulted in a quiet bus ride home. I was wrong.
The players were wired for most of the return trip home. However an unexpected sight silenced the boisterous crew. In the middle of their carrying on, one player exclaimed, "Look at all of those birds!" Silence ensued as everyone moved or craned their necks to see hundreds maybe even a thousand small birds perched on the power lines running parallel to the road.
Having grown up in the Midwest, birds on power lines was nothing new. In fact, I wasn't impressed at all but I said nothing because the players were awed by the sight. In truth, it was an usual sight in Indonesia. Indonesians hunt birds for sport. The possession of firearms by regular citizens is prohibited, but pellet or BB guns are not. The result is that you see relatively few birds for a place teeming with insect life.
As I reflected on this sighting of birds on a wire, I was reminded how our experience changes our perspective. No more clearly is this seen than in our decisions. We make decisions based on our experience. This is not a bad thing. Most of the time, our past provides a wealth of information from which we can use to make good, if not godly, decisions. However, what happens when our decisions clash with the wants of another? Do you, like me, assume that your experience is somehow superior to the other you are in conflict with? Do these feelings of superiority lead to a condescending attitude about them? Maybe you even try to demonize the other. In a fallen world this happens. However that doesn't mean that we must participate in such a cycle. Christ came to reconcile all things and all people. Through Christ we have the ability to choose a different path, a different way of living.
Watching the high school students be awed by birds on a wire reminded me that sometimes we must simply discipline ourselves to enjoy that which someone else finds enjoyable or be awed by something that seems common place. This mindset might also include making decisions that enable God to surprise us, especially when we are convinced that we are right.
May God grant us the courage to change the things we can, patience to bear the things we can't and wisdom to know the difference.