Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

The bigger picture

IT’S IRONIC THAT many of us go through life as though we are the star of the movie, unaware that we may have actually written a part that is smaller than that permitted by our vanity.

We forget that our view of the world is much like the film we watch on a flatscreen or on our laptop; it has been formatted to fit the space. Some of what’s happening on the edges of the frame gets trimmed off. That doesn’t even take into account the Cinemascope movies of old, where the screen stretched across the width of the theater.

The result is that, when we’re looking at the small square screen in front of us, nothing much may seem to be happening. The main character is just sitting there, twiddling their thumbs! What we don’t realize is that all sorts of movement may be going on out of the main frame, which is going to impact the “star” at any moment.

Keeping the bigger picture in mind would save us from a lot of restlessness and worry with regards to God’s moving in our lives. Just because we don’t see anything going on doesn’t mean there isn’t anything happening. He may just be working with other characters right now.

When we fail to take that into account, we can end up hoping for less than God has in mind. Consider Zechariah the priest, who with his wife, Elizabeth, longed for the child they were unable to conceive because of her barrenness.

By the time they are both advanced in years, he has given up on praying for a baby—and then comes that encounter with the angel Gabriel, when Zechariah is serving in the temple (Luke 1). Zechariah learns that, through a miracle, he is to become the father of John the Baptist.

Only then does the gap between his long-held desire and God’s design become clear. All those earlier years, Zechariah had just wanted God to give him a child; God, meanwhile, had more in mind. He wanted to give Zechariah one of whom it would be said of those “that are born of women there is none greater” (Luke 7:28). Zechariah simply wanted progeny; God wanted he who would be called “the prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76).

Before you allow the disappointment of seemingly unanswered prayer to lodge in your heart as Zechariah did—in the exchange with Gabriel, he clearly doubts God—remember that the movie you’re part of may be more epic than you are aware. It’s been written and directed by “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

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