A few years ago, a dear friend of mine, Robert, told me a story which left a lasting impression on me.
The recent implementation of level four restrictions in our state of Victoria, brought this story back to mind last week and I feel compelled to share it with you.
Robert has led a bit of a topsy turvy life where there have been some significant highs and some incredible lows. A bit like all of us, I guess.
The incident he told me about occurred during one of his incredible lows. He was alone after his marriage broke up and among other things had suffered some serious financial setbacks which left him bankrupt. After months of trying his best to bounce back each time he was knocked down, he reached a point where he felt he couldn’t do It anymore. Robert was beside himself and was filled with regret about the past and worry for the future. He could see absolutely no way out and the more he thought about his circumstances the more insurmountable his problems became. And of course, the bigger his problems became the less he could see past them and therefore the more he fixated on them.
I imagine we can all relate to this process to some degree.
One day Robert found himself standing on the headland overlooking Mornington beach. He was emotionally exhausted and at the end of his tether. All he could do was stand there and stare at some rocks on the sands below. It was like all of life had come to a grinding halt and been distilled into that one depressing moment, where all Robert could see were those black, ugly rocks. An apt description of his life he thought.
How long he stood there I do not know, but with every minute he stared at those black, ugly rocks so much darker did his mood become…
And then, something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye.
It was a seagull flying off in the distance and for whatever reason, Robert shifted his gaze from the rocks below to this bird as it flew across the sky in front of him. And then, as he watched the seagull he noticed, for the first time, the blue sky which stretched out for miles before him…
and then he noticed the white fluffy clouds that moved slowly through that sky…
and then he noticed the rest of the coastline which disappeared majestically into the distance…
and then he realised that because it was such a clear day, he could even see Melbourne’s sky scrapers from where he stood.
How long he stood there I do not know, but with every minute he stared off into the distance and beheld the vast array of life and majesty in front of his very nose, so much lighter did his mood become.
Eventually Robert returned home, but he took back with him a vastly different state of mind from the one he had left with earlier that day. The worries and cares which had been sucking the life out of him had somehow been subjugated when he was confronted with the stunning panorama at Mornington.
Robert had seen the big picture of life and his perspective was re-calibrated so that his worries took on more realistic proportions.
Furthermore, Robert decided to reach out to those around him and share his story with them and not to try and go it alone. This is how I found out about his story and frankly have been blessed abundantly by Robert’s authenticity.
Can I encourage anyone out there who can relate with Robert, not to try and go it alone, but to dare and pick up the phone and talk to someone about where they are at. At these times, it is more important than ever to try and stay connected with one another and to not drift apart.
Robert’s “big picture” experience reminded me of the incident recorded in 2Kings 6:15-19 when Elisha, the prophet, and his servant were trapped in the city of Dothan by Syrian troops and faced dire consequences. When Elisha’s servant awoke in the morning to the sight of the soldiers and chariots which had surrounded the city during the night he despaired and in fear asked his master what they could possibly do to avert disaster.
Elisha responds to his servant by telling him not to fear for “there are more on our side than on their side” and then he asked the Lord to “open the young man’s eyes that he may see” … Which the Lord did.
For the first time the servant saw that in fact they were not without allies, but that “the whole mountainside was full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha.” A heavenly army no less.
The servant was given the opportunity to see the big picture which held spiritual realities that he had no idea existed.
Is it any different for us in these present times?
There are many things getting right up in our faces shouting for our attention making it difficult to look past them to see the big picture.
At difficult times, like we currently find ourselves in, it is important we ask God to help us see His big picture, and not be swamped by the details that bombard us every day.
“What is His big picture?” I hear you ask.
Well because it is so big it contains many wonderful scenes and themes which speak of hope and joy and life, and that different aspects of this panorama will stand out to different people. To Robert it was the vastness of the blue sky and the majestic coastline which spoke of grandeur and sheer size. To Elisha’s servant it was the might of the heavenly host which spoke of power and deliverance.
However, regardless of the form the panorama may take in our lives, and the perspective that is restored as a result of gazing upon it. I would suggest that ultimately, we are called to look even past the big picture to the artist who created it.
The eternal Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
To never lose sight of who He is and the care He has for us.
As the Psalmist writes…
“God is our refuge and our strength,
ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in sea storm and earthquake.
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God of angel armies protects us.’ Psalm 46:1-3. (RSV & MSG)
So, this week let’s try and step back a little and ask Him to help us to see His big picture and to live life in the light of eternity, the biggest picture of all.