The Big Picture Gives Meaning to the Small Things

sunrise.jpgYesterday, I sat in a Mexican restaurant with a new friend.  I haven’t known him long.  He is about 64 years old and a longtime minister for a Dallas church.  He is in Waco for a conference at Baylor. 


Such an encouraging lunch!  He is still growing, thinking, and learning.  He reads widely and heavily.  He is very connected with people.  He particularly wants to continue to grow in wisdom.  There is something very refreshing about this.  Maybe it is refreshing because I have known so many men and women who have just quit.  I don’t just mean quit growing or learning.  I don’t even mean that they quit their work.  Far too many have even quit walking with the Lord.


Later in the afternoon, I thought several times about that lunch and about this minister.  Growing.  Thinking.  Alive.   I felt a new sense of energy.  In fact, I had an eagerness to read a book I have been wanting to read.  More importantly, I felt a new sense of energy toward what I am about in this world.

Why?  I think it was because for a few moments I had taken the time to look at things from a different vantage point. 


I mentioned in a recent post that I have just started reading Phillip Yancey’s new book, Prayer.  Yancey writes concerning the mystery of prayer:

To explore the mystery of prayer I begin here, recalling the vantage I get from the summit of a mountain looking down or from an observatory looking up.  Each provides a mere sliver of a glimpse of reality as God must see it.  Like a flash of lightning, prayer exposes for a nanosecond what I would prefer to ignore: my own true state of fragile dependence. (Yancey, p. 21)

So many of us rarely look down at life from the summit of the mountain.  Nor do we look up the mountain from an observatory.  No, we are too preoccupied with the glitter and the voices around us wanting our attention, our time, our money.  We become lost in our quest for success.  We get seduced by the endless promises of happiness.  Meanwhile, far too many of us are not growing or maturing in wisdom.  Consequently, we throw our lives away to trivial pursuits and have no higher vision than the next television program.  


We don’t have to live this way.  I want to keep my eye on the big picture.  I want to keep looking up the mountain or down the mountain.  I want to have a vision of what I am here for in the first place.


And what about prayer?  As Yancey says so well, "…prayer exposes for a nanosecond what I would prefer to ignore: my own true state of fragile dependence."  When my eye is on the big picture and when I am in prayer, my fragile dependence upon God is exposed.  Now that is the truth.  So what am I?  A fragile human being who is totally dependent upon God.  I am living in a world where God’s big picture is much larger than the new house that promises me joy or the new car that promises me a greater sense of prestige.


What about you?  Are you like me and sometimes get overwhelmed by the myriad of details, which are actually very trivial (in terms of importance)?  Do you ever find yourself going for days or weeks and not really thinking about the big picture?  What is it that keeps you grounded in your sense of dependence on God when others around you are attempting to be independent of him?

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8 thoughts on “The Big Picture Gives Meaning to the Small Things

  1. <p>To answer your closing question, I’m thinking of the title to a hymn, Be Thou My Vision.<p/><p>I often go to the first chapters of Ephesians or Colosians when I find my vision of Jesus is smaller than it was. Scripture remains the corrective lense for my distorted heart.<p/>

  2. I LOVE to be around people older than I  like the man you describe.  In fact, I look for elderly people who are full of life, in spite of a failing body, so that I can get to know them and even pump them with questions.  I want to know how they do it and what drives them.  So many elderly people cannot deal with the adjustments they must make as their bodies and minds age; as a result, they just sit down for years and wait to die.  I have one friend who is in her late 80’s, still working part time.  She has the most amazing attitude, in spite of her health issues.  I often tell her that I want to be just like her when I grow up!  

  3. Interesting question. Perhaps one of the most ‘grounding’ devices that I have is fear – in a proper context. While doing some reading a few years ago I was convicted with the fear of ignoring the Spirit within my own life but continue going on without anyone being able to notice. Such a thought inspires a humility for the failure my life is left to itself. May we never forsake the empowerment of the Spirit – and may our lives show a difference.

  4. Thanks Allan, Jan, and Greg—Becky–Like you I enjoy being around "older" people who are full of life.  There is an 80 (plus) year old man in our church who is regularly asking me about the title of a book or an author I have mentioned.  He will then ask me if I think Barnes and Noble might have the book.I want to be like him. 

  5. :mic,Well said.  I do not want to miss what the Spirit is doing in my life either.  I especially don’t want to miss this because I was preoccupied with the trivial.