Take a moment to think with me about the impact that our vantage point has on what we see. For instance, where we are standing relative to a forest has a profound effect on how we perceive it. The forest appears one way while walking along under the canopy, but it looks very different from a fire tower or mountaintop. We call this perspective - how a thing appears to us based on its distance and position relative to us.
In short, whether we are in the middle of the forest or surveying it from some lofty place makes a difference. Our own knowledge about what we are beholding also has an impact on our interpretation of what we are seeing. Someone who has studied the flora, fauna and geological features of the forest certainly sees something different from one who has little or no knowledge of those things.
Several years ago I wrote a poem to try to capture the effect of these differences in perspective. I'd like to share it with you today:
Standing on a high place
Below me weathered stone
Wind sweeps across my face
And makes me feel alone
Yet here I'm united
To all that I can see
And by heaven knighted
With God's nobility
So can we begin to see how our perspective can give us a window into God's view of things? Consider the way that humans thought about the earth before we were able to travel into space. Our perspective of this orb that we inhabit was very different then wasn't it? Moreover, it's not just being able to look back at this planet from space - it's all the things that we've learned about this place over the centuries too.
We've all seen the pictures that astronauts and satellites have snapped of this beautiful globe with its blue, white, brown and green swirls. We also know that those swirls represent clouds, oceans, land masses, plants and animals. We know that in the midst of those brown and green patches people are walking, running and riding around. We know that they are organized into nations and are engaged in all kinds of social, commercial and cultural activities - even though we can't actually see those details in what is before us.
Likewise, we look out into space and see all of those little pinpricks of light, and we know that they represent giant stars like our own sun (some of them with planets swirling around them). Most of us are also cognizant of the fact that because of the time that it takes for light to reach this planet from those distant objects that we are looking into the past.
What about people who know more about these things than we do? What is their perspective on them? What does a meteorologist, physicist or cosmologist see when he/she looks at these same objects that we've been discussing?
As God surveys the universe, what does God see?