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  • Writer's picturePeter Nittler

The View From Above

On the East edge of the UC Davis campus stands the Social Science Building. Some people call it “SocSci,” but most people refer to it affectionately as the “Death Star.” 

To some, the Death Star is a sleek, modern structure with charmingly difficult halls to navigate.  To others, the Death Star is a hideous gray eyesore with maddeningly difficult halls to navigate.  What all can agree on, however, is that the top of this architectural Rorschach provides some of the best views of the campus. 

Recently my fellow campus ministry friend, Andrew Ahr (he and his wife, Rachel, lead Athletes in Action at UC Davis), and I went on a prayer walk around the campus.  Our first stop: climbing the steps of the Death Star.

Andrew is in fine physical shape so I let him do most of the talking as we climbed the many steps.  But when I got to the top, a little out of breath, the view from above took the rest of it away. 

Indulge me as I rehearse some clichés: so often life feels overwhelming.  So often life feels rushed.  So often life feels like a never-ending series of items and tasks which are crucially important and immediately urgent.  Perhaps many of us feel like we’ve gotten our Gladwellian 10,000 hours in a hurried lifestyle which is to say – we’re habituated to it.  And, I’ll speak for myself here, a hurried life crowds out wonder, trust, and hope in God’s ability to handle the world.

And the thing about a habit is that you don’t quite notice you have it until you’re taken out of it. 

And as I stood with Andrew, praying and seeing the campus from an entirely different perspective, I was brought out of my habit.  From above, I was no longer hurried and rushed, but calmed by how in control everything looked. From above, I wasn’t ruled by the tyranny of the immediate, but freed into imagining the possibility that this is how God sees us, our problems, and our world. From above, I could the weight of feeling like it all depends on me, and could actually trust that God can handle it – whatever “it” is. The view from above somehow felt truer.

As we start the year, I am desperate for this perspective.  As I live life on the ground, I want to live as if I’m seeing if from above.  I want the peace that comes from perspective. I want the calm that comes with context.  I want the faith that comes from seeing a fuller picture. I want the trust that comes with seeing the truth.

Colossians 3 tells us to set our mind on things above.  To understand what that means, may I suggest climbing the steps of the Death Star? Or at least riding the elevator?

Peter Nittler

College Pastor of First Baptist Church of Davis, California



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