Looking up is so often more pleasant than looking down. To look up is to see what God has done; to look down is to see what man has spoiled. Upward are the clouds, the trees, the hills and mountains;
downward is the litter and the filth of our wasteful, careless way of life. To walk by the shores of Loch Alsh through the lovely garden pictured on the cover was to be reminded of a God of power and beauty. Looking up were the distant mountains shimmering in the blue haze of a glorious spring day. Looking around were the trees and flowers reminding us of a God who delights in variety and harmony. There was no clashing of colours though some were so bright; the whole prospect was pleasant and peaceful; all was clean and fresh; our spirits were refreshed and we had little time to look down. Had we walked with heads bowed and backs bent, no doubt we could have discovered something unpleasant but obviously that was not our intention.
The purpose of this simple parable is to say that in the journey of life, what we see depends on where we are looking and what we are looking for. Have we any prospects? Is there anything to look forward to? Do we foolishly live for the present and rush madly from one passing pleasure to the next, only to find that the pleasure we so much anticipated is soon gone and was not really what we hoped for after all? Such is life for so many. They set their affection on things on the earth only to find that ‘moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break through and steal’. They have no prospects beyond the fleeting events of this life, pleasant though some of them may be. Unwilling to think soberly about the future they try to banish the one certain prospect from their minds. There is to be an end and ‘the end of all things is at hand’ (1 Peter 4.7). Some may like to claim that their interests are much more sophisticated and significant than mere fleshly gratification but Joseph Hart once wrote:
If more refined amusements please,
As knowledge, arts, or learning,
A moment puts an end to these,
And sometimes short’s the warning.
A few days ago I sat in a doctor’s consulting room and in the course of answering many personal questions regarding my history and health, I was suddenly faced with a most unexpected one; ‘What are your prospects?’ I suppose the answer expected had to do with
retirement prospects or matters of that kind but the question took on a much deeper significance than the doctor ever imagined. May I ask you who read these words the same question?
The Old Testament saints had wonderful prospects; not only of the literal land of promise ‘flowing with milk and honey’; they looked forward to ‘a better country’ and a ‘city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (Hebrews 11). The apostle Paul had most certain prospects. They were so attractive to him that he had ‘a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better’, even though he had so many reasons for wanting to be pared to live longer (Phil. 1.23-26). The chorus of voices from the New Testament churches in Revelation 22.20 was inspired by the Holy Spirit and they said, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus’. What amazing, awesome, and most glorious prospects these believers all had! And the same prospects belong to all who now believe and who have taken to heart the words of Peter, ‘Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer’.