Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Big Picture -- Guest Post by Hottie Hubby

Recently I cruised at more than 30,000 feet above the earth’s surface. From vantage point, the world looked a little different than from my normal 5 feet 10 inches. I saw lakes and rivers that were connected and how those rivers meandered their way into the ocean; clusters of homes connected to one another by an intricate system of roads and bridges, and entire forests and fields.

I got a sense of how everything fits together that I could never understand by only experiencing the area from my height.

I enjoy understanding the big picture but I struggle with what it takes to get there (unless I am on a short airplane ride). All I had to do to see the southern half of the United States was climb aboard the plane, sit back, enjoy my ration of five and half peanuts and a Dixie cup sized beverage while I took in the view.

But when it comes to real life, I must admit that the effort required to wrap my mind around the big picture is daunting.

Unveiling the big picture in life is more like the effort required to climb a mountain to attain the aerial view rather than hopping on an airplane.

For example, during my week away from the Granola Mom and crew I attended a national conference focused on dam and levee safety. There were close to 800 people who attended the conference to talk, listen, teach, learn, exchange ideas and dialogue about how we can improve the safety and security of one of our nation’s biggest liabilities. I know it probably sounds riveting to most of the GM4G readers but there is something in this that we can all relate to.

Many of the topics of the various breakout sessions were focused on what we refer to as case studies. Topics such as “Lessons Learned from the Teton Dam Failure” or “The Reconstruction of the Delton Lake Dam” were common formats of the discussions.

These were interesting talks and easy to listen to because they were a view of a specific situation from the ground. The discussion points created a logical progression and the subject matter was contained within easily defined geographic and chronological limits.

Other discussions were focused on much broader and far reaching issues, like creating an overall national approach to managing and maintaining our levees. Current estimates indicate that there are probably more than a 100,000 miles of levees in the United States that provide critical flood protection to millions of Americans. The ownership of these levees is divided amongst more than a dozen federal agencies, tens of thousands of local communities, and countless private entities.

The top experts admit that at this point we don’t have a clue about what the overall condition of these levees is. In fact, we don’t even really have a handle on the exact number of levee miles that are out there. There were lengthy discussions about how we can even start to get a handle on the big picture of securing our nation’s levees. The big picture discussions went on to cover the philosophy behind levees as a means of flood protection and how we can change the overall paradigm of flood protection by relying more on non-structural means of flood protection and less on levees.

The big picture discussions were interesting and really broadened my understanding of the subject but also made my brain hurt as I tried to focus my eyes on seeing everything in the big picture. The view of the big picture is much more rewarding than the individual case studies, and yet I have to have that understanding of the case studies in order to understand the big picture.

Likewise, the view from my airplane window would never make sense if I hadn’t spent a considerable amount of time living on the ground experiencing the rivers and lakes, the streets and neighborhoods. If all I ever knew was the view from the airplane the things on the ground would be a mystery to me that I couldn’t understand.

I might wonder, “What are those long snaking ribbons with little dots crisscrossing along them? What are those squares of brown and blobs of green? What is that shiny blue expanse?”

We have to spend time living in the details of something before the big picture is ever comprehensible to us.

I’ve found this to be true in the Bible too. As a child I experienced the stories of the Bible. I knew about Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Moses, David and Goliath, and of course Jesus. The individual stories and details were easy to enjoy and understand.

To a child they were just random puzzle pieces that didn’t really seem to fit together. By the time I was becoming an adult I had a grasp on the details of the stories but I hadn’t necessarily connected the dots well enough to get a view of the big picture.

By continuing to labor in the Word, I began to climb (or perhaps God began to carry me) to greater heights where I could see the big picture. The effort wasn’t easy, but it was worth the view. I began to see that every event in the Bible was there by design to tell an overall story that was much bigger than any one individual story. Every detail of the Bible began to point to a few basic concepts:

  • as humans have a big problem with sin that we can’t overcome on our own;
  • that sin causes death and decay in our life and separates us from a God who loves us;
  • it is only by the innocent dying in the place of the guilty that sin can ever be removed.

All of these principles are firmly established by the third chapter of Genesis and then are woven into the individual details and big picture alike throughout the rest of the Bible. Without seeing that big picture, many of the details don’t make sense.

It seems pretty weird that God made animal skins for Adam and Eve to wear. Why did Moses tell the Jews to smear sheep blood over the doors?

It makes no sense why Jesus had to be God and why he had to die for me. It doesn’t make sense why any of us need a Savior. What do we need to be saved from?

But an understanding of the details brings the big picture into focus just as an understanding of the big picture brings the details into focus.

And so it is in my life as well. It seems that my time is often filled with the details of daily living.

There are projects to get done, emails to answer; bike rides to go on, dinners to enjoy with family, quiet evenings to spend chatting with the wife about what we did that day and what we are going to do the next day.

Details, details.

I admit that sometimes it is difficult to set aside the time and put forth the effort to climb to the heights where I can take in the big picture of where I am and where I’m going. It is often easier for a task oriented, steady plodder like myself to immerse myself in the details of life without taking in the big picture.

I often don’t have time to hop on the airplane, let alone to climb the mountain and take in the view from God’s perspective. I have reality to attend to! But I know that by going to God and asking for His wisdom and His perspective, that He will reveal the big picture to me. I know that when I begin to grasp the big picture the details will come into greater focus. I can see how the good and the bad things in life shape me into His image. I can see how He is preparing me and my family for great things that will bring glory to Him.

As I scale the heights by walking through the details of my life in relationship with Jesus through His Word and prayer, I begin to grasp more and more of the big picture of my life.

So Lord, I pray that you use the details to bring the big picture into focus and use the big picture to bring the details into focus as well.
Please leave a comment for Hottie Hubby! He blessed me by writing this post for my blog-aversary!)


Mamma James said...

Gerrad & I read this together...we agree that it is easy to get lost in the details of living and it was a GREAT reminder to allow God to show us the big picture. We need quiet time with Him to remind us where we have come from and where we are going. (GM4G's HH, you should blog more often! Very good! We enjoyed the read!!!)

Kari @ p.s. love.love. said...

This was a great analogy of life - in so many areas, including reading The Bible. Thanks HH for sharing this today. The point of view from each person is so drastically different than our own and I think it helps us broaden our scope and see things either differently or more clearly!