Until she learned sign language, Helen Keller behaved more like a wild animal than a little girl. Deaf and blind from infancy, Helen’s perspective on life had been limited to processing information she could glean from her remaining senses of smell, taste and touch. Little made sense to her and life was chaotic.
However, when Annie Sullivan became Helen’s teacher everything changed. Chaos turned to order; life began to make sense. Introducing language in the form of hand shapes made onto the palm of Helen’s hand began the breakthrough. Helen started to make the connection between the signs made on her palm and real life objects, eventually understanding more challenging abstract concepts like emotions and ideas. Understanding her world gave her a new perspective and enabled her eventually to become a prolific author, speaker and political activist.
The twelfth chapter of Romans gives us an even more amazing story of how chaos can be transformed into order. It all begins with understanding an important characteristic of God: His mercy.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, “entreats the apostle Paul,” in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
It comes down to how we think about God. This thinking must be based on fact, and Paul says the fact that God is merciful is the fact that can drive transformed thinking and effective living. It is not about us creating a god to fit our emotions and desires or our predetermined thoughts and ideas; if we are honest we have to admit the purpose of that kind of thinking is only to justify the way we want to live.
Christian pastor, author and editor A.W. Tozer observes “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” If our thoughts about God are true and substantiated by His Word, we become authentic.
Thinking about God’s mercy changes us fundamentally; we become moved by God to live our lives in gratitude to Him, willingly subordinating our desires to His. We even find ourselves becoming merciful as we focus on His modeling of that compassionate characteristic. Love, compassion and forgiveness are tied tightly to mercy, and these traits will follow as close companions so that our nature becomes very different from what it once was.
Having a perspective of God’s mercy is an important crossroads for living. Without it, we merely conform to the pattern of the world – we become selfish, proud, willful, and rebellious to God’s claim on our lives. With it we are transformed with a renewed mind, a submissive will, and clean living bodies. Try it, says Paul. Test it and see if you approve of God’s will. In view of God’s mercy, you will find God’s will to be good, pleasing and perfect.
That’s quite a promise. There’s only one way to find out if it’s true: think on God’s amazing mercy toward yourself and others. See whether that won’t transform the most important thing about you. Perspective is not something – it is everything.
(Photo Credit: “Hellen Keller holding doll with Ann Sullivan 1888” by Family member of Thaxter P. Spencer, now part of the R.Stanton Avery Special Collections, at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. See Press Release  for more information. – NWI.com Multimedia. “AP Photo/Courtesy of the Thaxter P. Spencer Collection, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, New England Historic Genealogical Society-Boston. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hellen_Keller_holding_doll_with_Ann_Sullivan_1888.jpg#/media/File:Hellen_Keller_holding_doll_with_Ann_Sullivan_1888.jpg)