“Remember, the devil loves to make us focus on the little that’s wrong so we miss the big picture of all that’s right.”Lysa Terkeurst
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel“Philippians 1:12
Have you ever looked through binoculars? If so, you know that binoculars zoom in on the singular item you’re trying to see. Say you’re at a hockey game sitting in the nose bleeds. Using binoculars will help you zoom in on that athlete or that puck to help you see what’s going on. That sounds great, right? But one second the puck could be on one end of the ice and the next second the puck is at the other end of the ice. Using binoculars isn’t going to be that beneficial, unless you have supersonic speed, which my guess is that you don’t. When you’re so zoomed in on the puck at one moment, you can’t see what’s going on in the bigger arena. You might have seen that particular player hit the puck, but to whom, to where, and why? You probably don’t know because all you could see was the puck. Now you have to take the binoculars down from your eyes to find the puck, only to get farther and farther behind in the game. The next thing you know, the game is over, you don’t even know what happened, and you find yourself confused and maybe even upset.
This analogy is very similar to life. We get so caught up looking through our zoomed in binoculars that we miss what’s going on around us. For example, imagine planning a 10 year high school reunion. You focus on the dj, the punch bowl, the location of the reunion, your attire, and whether or not the pizza will be on time. Doing that, you miss the actual reunion part. You’re so focused on the details that you miss catching up with old pals. At the end of the reunion you might feel as if it was a success, yet you don’t even know who all was there, let alone what has happened in the past 10 years of their lives. What a shame to be focused on the details and miss the whole picture! But if you’re anything like me, this happens too often. If you know me, details are super important to me. I love planning things and focusing on the little details. But this tendency to focus way too closely on the details can cause me to miss really great things right in front of me. Sometimes, then, the Lord has to remove the binoculars from my face to bring me back to reality. He does this to a lot of us in different ways and situations. And he does so for our benefit. He isn’t trying to be mean, nor is he doing this with an angry attitude. He sees how upset us humans can become by focusing on the little details. God doesn’t want us to be upset; he actually rejoices with us when we are happy. So the Lord removes our binoculars because he wants us to see the picture the way he sees it, not how we see it so zoomed in. When we look at the picture from our zoomed in, up close perspective, we don’t see everything, so naturally this is going to upset us. But if we see things from his perspective we’re less likely to get upset because we are able to see a lot more of what is going on, which will ultimately bring happiness.
Luckily for all of us, we aren’t the first, nor the last, to get caught up in the little details and almost miss the big picture. Paul, the author of Philippians, was forced to zoom out, too. Just when Paul thought he could see where his future was headed, the Lord removed his binoculars to show Paul that what he had planned was not inline with what God had planned. Paul, originally known as Saul, was converted on the road to Damascus. In the first part of his life, Saul hated Christians so much he set out to kill Christians. On his way to Damascus to kill the Christians, Saul encounters Jesus through a bright light. From that moment on, Paul sought to proclaim the Word of God (read Acts 9+ for the full story). Paul had an idea of how he wanted to proclaim the Word, but God had another, an even better, idea. During Paul’s life, Rome was considered the center of the universe. Everything that happened, happened in Rome. Paul wanted to go to Rome and preach there. But like I mentioned before, God had an even better idea. While Paul and Silas, his evangelical partner at the time, were preaching the word all over the country, some found this disturbing and they didn’t approve. Because of this disproval, Paul and Silas were imprisoned. There goes Paul’s dream of preaching in Rome. BUT the story doesn’t end there. Paul was in prison for 2 years. For those 2 years, Paul was chained to a guard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every 4 hours, the guard changed. So, if you do the math, that’s 4,380 guards that Paul witnessed to over a 2 year period. That’s a lot of guards!! I wonder if that number is more than Paul could have witnessed to if he had made it to Rome to preach. We don’t know the answer to that, and we may never know. But God knows. God placed Paul in prison for the purpose of witnessing to those 4,380 guards that crossed paths with him. Similarly, because of Paul’s imprisonment, members of Nero’s family became believers. That’s huge! At the time, Nero was Caesar and he was a horrible, hard-hearted man. He was respected by few and liked by even fewer. But members of his family came to know who Jesus was because of Paul’s imprisonment. So if you’re keeping score, 4,380 prison guards AND multiple family members of Nero heard Paul’s message. But these were not the only people to hear Paul’s message. If you don’t know much about Paul, here’s a fun fact: he wrote 13 books in the New Testament and played a roll in writing others. I don’t know how many people Paul dreamed of reaching in Rome, but I have a feeling, between the 4,380 guards in addition to his 13 books of the Bible that have been read now for thousands of years, he reached way more people through God’s plan than he could ever have dreamed of in his plan. So although Paul wanted to go to Rome to preach to the people there, God had a bigger and better idea. God, with his infinite knowledge, knew that Paul could ultimately reach thousands more people through his life in prison and with the New Testament books than he could preaching in Rome. Score 1 for God!
Imagine, though, how upset Paul would have been if he had been looking through his binoculars the whole time. He would have been lost and confused and probably light headed from all the moving about. He thought he saw his path taking him to Rome, but the Lord readjusted his binoculars to show him he’s going somewhere else. And his positive attitude is a great example for us to follow today. Philippians 1:12, our scripture verse at the top, is a passage Paul wrote in prison. He’s writing to the Church at Philippi with God’s perspective in mind. He recognizes that the things that happened to him, like being imprisoned, were for the advancement of the kingdom. And that’s exactly why we should zoom out from the little details. Your life might feel like a roller coaster right now. Or maybe there’s a lot of hurt and you don’t understand what’s happening. Girl, zoom out. Try and look at things from God’s perspective; this reminds us that there is a bigger plan than what we can see. God is constantly using parts of our story to influence others. Just like Paul was imprisoned, you might feel imprisoned at work or at school. You might feel as if that’s not where you’re supposed to be and there must be bigger things for you than that. But I encourage you to have an attitude like Paul. Understand that the Lord has placed you in the situation that you’re currently in for the betterment of his kingdom. You’re influencing people on a daily basis even if you have no idea. But in order to have this positive outlook that whatever the circumstances you know there is a plus side, you have to be willing to put the binoculars down.
Had Paul held tightly onto his binoculars and kept the Lord from removing them, we might not have the New Testament. Paul would have been stuck looking at the small details that weren’t adding up in his mind and he wouldn’t have seen the bigger picture. The same applies to us. If the Lord wants to remove your binoculars for you to see the bigger picture, let him. Don’t hold on to those binoculars too tightly. Remember that the devil likes us to focus on the little details so we miss the big picture. Imagine if Paul had held tightly onto his binoculars so that he missed the bigger picture – the thousands of people he can reach from prison. What a tragedy that would have been. But the devil, a scheming little booger, can do the same in your life. Don’t let him cause you to worry about the little details. Take a breath and zoom out. Fight that urge to focus on the little details 24/7. The devil won’t stop working, so you have got to fight. It’s not wrong to see the details every now and then, it’s actually nice. But seeing too many details and not the bigger picture can drive you crazy. And no one, not yourself, not your family, and not your friends, benefits from a detail focused friend. I know that firsthand. I have missed and ruined too many a beautiful occasion by focusing on the little details. I don’t want you to miss out on things the way I have. I don’t want you to throw away beautiful friendships by knit-picking every little detail. The best way to enjoy life is to zoom out and see things from the Lord’s perspective. From the Lord’s perspective, we are able to see pieces of his plan that we don’t see zoomed in. His plan always prevails, so quit focusing on the details and focus on the bigger picture from God’s perspective. Don’t let the devil ruin the short years you have on this earth by focusing on the details. Think of everything, the goods and the bads, as God’s way of advancing the gospel. Trust me, you’ll be a lot happier of a camper. And so will everyone around you. So girl, zoom out!