Archive for July, 2008

More Big Picture/Little Picture

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Today’s sermon was titled “Keeping Perspective.”  It was about exactly what I’ve been thinking so much about lately:  The big picture and the little picture.

Of course it got me reflecting some more.  I think there will always be a tension between the big picture and the little picture.  We can believe that God is working, that God is surely working all things together for good.  But in the little picture, bad things do happen.  And they hurt.

The Psalms are full of wrestling with this tension.  Here’s a common pattern to so many psalms:

Help, Lord!

Things are awful!

Answer me quickly!

I remember that You came through for me before.

Surely You will come through for me again!

God rocks!

I’m going to conquer!

Isn’t God AWESOME?!?

Sometimes the way we get through our pain in the little picture is to cry out to God.  After we express our pain, we can remind ourselves that we KNOW God is going to come through for us.

Pastor Ed mentioned that the best way to keep perspective is not positive thinking, but faith.  Hebrews 11 has so many models of faith.  Even though “they did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.”

Maybe that’s the challenge:  Seeing what God is doing, and welcoming it, even from a distance.  Believing that God is Real, and that it is Worth It to follow Him, however foolish it may look in the short term  (Hebrews 11:6).

Imagine that you’ve bought your child something they’ve been longing for.  It’s wrapped up and hidden away for his birthday, or maybe sitting under the Christmas tree.  Then you go to a store together and see one, and he dissolves into tears because you won’t buy it.  You would be sad with your son because of his pain, but you would know he’ll get a lot more joy if he waits for Christmas.

Last year, God gave me some verses in Jeremiah 31, beginning with: 

“Restrain your voice from weeping

and your eyes from tears,

for your work will be rewarded,”

declares the Lord.

“They will return from the land of the enemy.

So there is hope for your future,”

declares the Lord.

“Your children will return to their own land.”

Now here God is telling us to stop crying, but I know from other passages that He does have compassion for our pain!  So he’s not the Mean Dad snapping, “Stop crying!” but the one saying, “There, there!  Don’t worry, Honey, I have this problem totally under control.  Everything’s going to be Okay.  Better, everything’s going to be Beautiful.”

If we can truly believe the big picture, even our emotions can start to reflect that.  Mind you, getting them there may take a wrestling process such as in the Psalms.  But that Big Picture thinking can help us refrain from crying as we come more fully to believe that, truly, God “exists, and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  It is worth it to follow God.

I’ve also been thinking lately that I can use my love for fairy tales to reinforce my big picture thinking.  Today Pastor Ed said that as Christians, “We believe in Happy Endings.”  How true.  If we follow God, we can be certain that, whatever happens, the ending will be, “And they lived happily ever after.”

Isn’t God AWESOME?!?