The Big Picture
A few years ago there was an advertisement for a TV station that started out like this: A woman was sitting in a car, casually minding her own business. Suddenly, a man comes out of the blue and approaches her car in a frenzy of haste. He rips the door open, grabs the woman by the arm, and pulls her roughly out of the car. It looks as though he is attacking her, and you look on in amazement imagining the terror the woman must be experiencing. Then the camera pulls back, enabling viewers to see that the car is actually on fire, something that the woman was totally unaware of. The man was not assaulting the woman; he was rescuing her. The ad concludes by saying, "You need the bigger picture. Channel 10 News gives you the bigger picture." The ad makes a good point. We need to have the bigger picture.
This week we begin a new series of sermons from the Book of Joshua. The people of Israel need to have the bigger picture. Looking toward the Jordan River, they were almost paralyzed with fear. They knew they would have to cross it, but there were no bridges or ferries. The prospect of walking through a river with a swift current and possible drop-offs surely struck fear into their hearts. But once they made it to the other side, they knew they would have to face cities and people who were big and powerful. As the people of Israel were overwhelmed and afraid. Their prospects looked dim. But there was a bigger picture they needed to see. The Lord God had promised the Israelites that they would enter the land. He assured them that they were not alone nor forsaken. God would do all that he said he would do. That was the bigger picture for Joshua and the Israelites and it is the bigger picture for us—God is faithful and in control—even when it seems that he is not.
There are few things as challenging to our faith as those times when life deals us a set of circumstances that leave us wondering what God is up to. We are confused when our plans do not fall into place like we thought they would. We are puzzled when our prayers are not answered according to our desires. Sometimes it seems that God gives us just the opposite of what we ask for. We are overwhelmed when nothing seems to make sense and every path has no outlet. Such moments demand a perspective which rests outside our humanity.
There is a bigger picture than you realize or understand. Just as God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours, God’s purposes are broader than our ability to fully perceive. I have always enjoyed going to the beach and gazing out across the ocean and looking at the horizon, the “line” where it appears that the earth has fallen away. There is more beyond the line, but you cannot see it.
There is a great danger of putting a horizon on God. Our inability to see what is coming next does not mean that God cannot see it. Because God dwells in eternity rather than in time, there is no angle of our life of which He is unaware. Perhaps that is why Max Lucado said, “Faith is the conviction that God knows more than we do about life and He will get us through it.” While life can often be difficult to understand, there is a much bigger picture being played out than we can see.