KOTTAYAM, India – Perspective is everything.
My friend Johnson Mathew demonstrates this truth as he shows me around his small plot of land in Kottayam, India. The din of children playing cricket nearby threatens to interrupt, but for now he is showing off a long-uncompleted expansion to his orphanage.
The cinder-block structure is rising up just a few yards from the existing children’s home, but its walls need to be a couple feet higher, it lacks a roof and it is uninhabitable. Undeterred, he points to one unfinished room after another: Here, the boys will sleep; over there, a small kitchen, and just beyond that, a place to hold prayer meetings.
His excitement at first puzzles me. Isn’t he concerned that there is no money to finish the expansion? Doesn’t he worry that the government may close the orphanage if the required work isn’t completed by June?
Does he wonder where the nine kids at Agape Children Home will go if they cannot live with him and his wife, Linda?
I sure do.
But those challenges are not Johnson’s focus. God will provide, he says, just as God has always provided.
As we leave the skeleton of a building, Johnson proudly points to trees and bushes around his tropical backyard. The property is a rich, green jungle hiding an embarrassment of riches: Coconuts, bananas, black pepper, jackfruit, guavas, papayas, limes, coffee and even vanilla beans all grow on the small lot.
The orphanage saves food expenses by relying on this bounty, and even makes a little money harvesting rubber from its own trees.
“God is always faithful to give us what we need,” Johnson said, taking a break from scraping rubber sap into a collection jar. “We are so thankful.”
Did you pick up on that last part?
Johnson is a man who chooses to focus on what is right, not on what is wrong; what he has today, not what he may lack tomorrow. He’s grateful for God’s past faithfulness and rests in knowing our unchanging God will be good in the future.
In other words, Johnson is a man of faith.
Faith is not merely the reward of maturity. Little children can live by faith.
Asna is a 10-year-old girl at the Good Shepherd Children’s Home in the nearby village of Kalithipaddy. Wednesday morning, she was joined by her 15 “siblings” in a chorus of praise and scripture recitals for the benefit of visitors.
“I look to the hills … where does my help come from,” Asna said, echoing Psalm 121. “My help comes from the Lord.”
And so it does.
Asna’s home is run without any outside financial support, yet somehow each month the children are fed, clothed and do well in school. Some dream of becoming doctors, nurses and teachers. One wants to be a journalist.
As I left India’s Kerala state on Thursday and headed north to Delhi, I wondered what it would look like to model my friends’ perspective on life.
To me, it seems our lives are like Johnson’s yard: We must choose carefully what we focus on. If we look up from our challenges, sorrows and unfulfilled dreams, we will see the bounty of God’s goodness all around us.
If we “look to the hills” beyond our immediate worries, as Asna does, we’ll see the faithfulness of God in times past, and be encouraged that he is still sovereign, still loving, still good.
It seems perspective really is everything.