The Bigger Picture

Ever feel like you’re  so caught up in “to do lists,” activities, family and even church obligations that you scarcely have a moment to breathe?

When you steal that precious moment to read someone’s blog post about how they organize their day in order to be efficient and have “quality time” with the family, do you alternate between skepticism and downright envy?

Does your day or week or month start out with carefully orchestrated plans that allow you moments to do for others, be the hands and feet of Jesus, reach out to someone in need only to find those plans come crashing down when a phone call from school, work, your spouse or the doctor changes everything?   fd964346176c95515f68f587c13fbe70

If you’re reading this post, I can almost guarantee that it has happened to you. If not, I’m personally inviting you over for coffee and cinnamon rolls so I can pick your brain! You have managed to accomplish something that no one else I know of has ever done. Let’s face it, even Jesus faced interruptions. In route to one destination, someone always needed a healing, a miracle. They key was, he allowed those interruptions to reveal his true character, always focusing on his goal of ushering in the kingdom of God.

Distractions and interruptions are a part of life.

Let me be so bold as to say, they are life. One interruption, one distraction, one urgent need after another.

Wait, you say. You’re an encourager! Where’s the encouragement in this? Are we defeated before we begin? Do we fly by the seat of our pants and attempt our crazy days with no plan or forethought?

No, I’m not suggesting anything so radical but I do propose we step back and look at the bigger picture. Every stage of life has a unique set of challenges.

  • The young career woman is struggling to become firmly established in a profession she has trained and prepared for years.
  • The young mom at home with the newborn or multiple children, strives to make it through the day with no personal injuries, getting everyone fed and hoping no permanent damage is done to any child’s personal development!
  • Every mom with children in school – she’s worried about everything; her children’s socialization, their academics, are they being bullied, are THEY the bully, after school activities, homework, an evening meal that passes for something nutritious and a whispered prayer that there are clean clothes for the next day.
  •  The semi-empty nester. This is SUCH a misnomer for unlike birds, our children never really leave. They may live in another household, even in another state but the connection is as strong as the umbilical cord that sustained their life. Intuitively mom knows when something isn’t just right. The first word (tone) of a phone call speaks volumes.
  • Grandmothers – new set of rules all together. You finally get to have some of those marvelous quality time moments with your grands that you just knew you would have with your children. Some of them. Even ‘grands’ plans can go awry with interruptions. As my wise mother told me, “Your children never really leave you, they come back with more. More to love and more to be concerned about.”

I could go on with the seasons of life. But the point is, there’s always that something else looming on the horizon waiting to throw a wrench in “our plan.” When I retired early a few years ago, I pictured my days as leisurely puttering around the garden, finally getting those thousands of pictures in my scrapbooks, taking a more active role in serving through a women’s ministry, helping out more on the farm, preparing a thoughtful meal each evening complete with a tablescape, volunteering for a few causes I hold dear, entertaining friends more frequently in my home and spending some fun time with my 3 granddaughters. Maybe even a trip to Disney!!

Hello interruptions. Without listing them because some are too unbelievable, even for me – suffice it to say. It did NOT go as I planned. Do I regret retiring? Not for a second. Because the truth is, I could not have been of service or responded to these needs had I can not been retired. Daily I am grateful that I DIDN’T see the bigger picture. It would likely have scared me to death! But I trust in the one who always sees the big picture and if we’re sensitive to his leading, we’ll respond to it.

Your interruption may be a child struggling in school that’s requiring extra attention and you don’t know how to meet those needs. It may be the aging parent that now requires assistance from you. Perhaps it’s your own health, suddenly you’re the one in need of care. It may be an emergency run to pick up a part for your husband in the middle of harvest. But interruptions are ALL around us. They are truly the stuff of which life is made.

I’ve come to realize it’s not whether my to do list gets done. It’s whether I’m open and receptive to the opportunities to serve others. Yes, maybe there was something I REALLY wanted to do, and I may even grumble to myself about the interruption – but I truly thank God he has given me the opportunity to serve him in whatever capacity he provides.

We see from a very limited perspective, God’s perspective is infinite. Someone once explained the difference in our vantage points very distinctly. When we look at a situation our perspective is like looking outside from our living room window. Regardless of how large that window is, it limits our view. We can’t see what’s happening beyond those boundaries. God’s perspective is from the vantage point of the roof top – the entire 360 view!

So,while the interruptions we face may appear to be a nuisance and hindrance to our goals and objectives, as we heed them, we can be assured that our obedience serves a larger purpose. Two scriptures come to mind as I reflect on the notion of interruptions:

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

Few are called to place ourselves in harm’s way to save another persons life. (Although I respect and admire those who have heeded the call as police officers, first responders, military – that is a definite call!) But for most of us, laying down our life means laying aside what we think is important at the moment to help someone in need. Yes, that hot shower would have been nice or oh, the luxury of a bubble bath; but that teething baby needs to be held and cuddled. A day trip or mini-vacation is long overdue, but a child in the hospital needs your attention and the family may benefit from a prepared meal. Simply sitting down to actually read a magazine you’ve had for 2 weeks; but someone’s had a rough day and they just need a little extra attention.  Putting down your “smart” phone to really listen to what a family member or friend is saying .Laying down our life. These acts seem trivial, but when you’re the one in need – they are lifesaving.

Paul so eloquently shared his secret to contentment; this from a man that was almost stoned to death, shipped wrecked, flogged, imprisoned and ultimately killed.
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:12-13

Lord, give us your strength to face each day knowing that you alone see the big picture. Use us according to your desires. Prepare our hearts to be receptive. Help us to see that these “interruptions” are a gateway to kingdom building. May we always live in the assurance that you equip us to do all you call us to do.

Celebrating the abundant life,

Mimi

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