I’m an iPhone convert. I clearly remember the days when I used to think cell phones were unnecessary and even annoying. (I’m from the generation of teens who carried two things in a purse: lipstick and a quarter for a pay phone.) When Bryan came home with my iPhone, I said, “This is way more phone than I need! What am I going to do with it? I don’t even know how to use it.” It took about 24 hours for it to become my favorite piece of technology ever invented. I may have absolutely no sense of direction, but I’ll never be lost again thanks to my handy-dandy iPhone. Plug in a doctor’s office, friend’s address, or shopping mall, and “presto”—have wheels, will travel.
I love the map feature. I can zoom in or out, depending on what I need to see. Whether it is my little neighborhood or the great state of Texas I want to navigate, just a touch of a finger provides an instant change in perspective. If only navigating life was that easy. So often, I get honed in on my tiny corner of the world, and all I can see is that flashing blue dot. When I stare at that blue dot too long, the rest of the universe becomes fuzzy. How often God reminds me to “zoom out” and look at the big picture!
My daughter Mary Claire got a special present for her sixth birthday: a ruffled pink tooth pillow hand-sewn by her aunt. She has carefully placed it on her bed each day since in anticipation of losing her first tooth. Her seventh birthday came and went last month, and still she hasn’t lost a tooth. When we were at the dentist on Friday, the hygienist noticed that Mary Claire has a wiggly tooth. As she sat in the chair grinning from ear to ear looking like she had won the lottery, my daughter exclaimed, “I can’t wait to tell Stephanie and Austin about my loose tooth! I’ve been waiting and waiting all these years!”
Ah, yes, all these seven years. Such a long time to her. Such a short time to the rest of us. You see, she is “zoomed in”. To a seven-year-old, a loose tooth is a big deal, and the first one takes a long time coming!
I’m really not much different than my baby. My grown-up hopes and dreams may not be the same, but I am equally impatient when it comes to what is important to me. I have to work hard to think outside my own self-prescribed time table, much less outside my lifetime into future generations and even into eternity. You see, time is a much different thing to God. That’s because he is “zoomed out”. He can see the big picture for us much like we can see it for our children.
Beginning to wrap my mind around God’s time table instead of my own has become imperative for my personal healing. Often I cannot cope when I become obsessed with my present circumstances. Choosing to “zoom out” when I am tempted to hone in on my own pain affords me the hope that God can make something good of it in spite of me…in the long run. It helps me make decisions that hurt in the short run but will leave a legacy of love and grace for my descendants. It may sound crazy, but I am really starting to think about my great, great grandchildren!
On an episode of Glenn Beck last week, historian David Barton spoke about the Great Awakening (mid 1700’s). He said that revivals always span decades and therefore generations. He told of heroes of the American Revolution like Patrick Henry and John Adams who were once children at the feet of pastors who were great orators during the first part of the Great Awakening. Their values and passions were formed as the generation before them turned back to God. Barton gave reasons why he believes our country is once again in the midst of a revival. Our church has been praying for it. I know others have been, too. And, we are seeing signs of it, even in the midst of a dark time in the world.
As I listened, I couldn’t help but wonder: Who is sitting at my feet listening to me as I turn to God in the midst of suffering? What child is developing values and passions that God may one day use for great things? How will the decisions I make today (as hard as they are for me to make) affect future generations? What would happen if I gave in to my temptation to despair?
We often underestimate our influence. And, we often are very short-sighted. God is not in a hurry, but he never wastes time. Think about that. It means that the things we do now matter. We will probably not ever know how much they matter in this lifetime. But, because God is sovereign and he can see things I cannot, I’m going to trust him—even in suffering. I deeply desire to have a big-picture perspective. I’m asking God to help me “zoom out” more often.
Is that something you need to do, too?
I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known THROUGH ALL GENERATIONS. Psalm 89:1
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the PROPER TIME we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
(Read the context here, but the psalmist talks about affliction in light of eternity, and concludes…) This will be written for a LATER GENERATION, and a NEWLY CREATED PEOPLE will praise the Lord. Psalm 102:18