Taking a step back to move forward

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2008

I t's probably one of the most common pieces of advice given during times of difficulty, "Take a step back and try to see the bigger picture." Easier said than done, right? If you're anything like me, you don't have time to stop and analyze life. Like a freight train blazing down the track, there is no sign of slowing. Or you've been in the same routine for such a long time you've accepted the way things are. The more a person struggles in quicksand the deeper they will sink. Why fight it? Because I want to live, I want a better life.

If the events around me aren't going to change then maybe my perspective on them needs to change. Perhaps taking a step back isn't such bad advice. There is a scene in the movie "The Matrix" where Neo (the main character) is kung-fu fighting in a computer generated world and is getting defeated. Neo's opponent (Morpheus) looks at Neo and reminds him that he is in fact in a computer world, "Do you think that's air you're breathing now?" Suddenly Neo's perspective changes and he is able to continue the fight with greater power. Probably not the best example but I hope you sort of get the idea.

But it takes more than fancy words and a movie clip to convince me of anything. I want to know what the Bible says about taking a step back. Is this the kind of advice that God would give? I believe it is. God wants us to see things from his perspective. The farthest step you can take back from any situation is exactly where God is. God sees the bigger picture all the time. This is very frustrating to my human understanding because I am tiny compared to God. Wouldn't even a small glimpse of what God sees be better than where I am now?

What exactly does God see? God sees the beginning and the end. He knows exactly how I got to where I am and where I am going. This is where faith comes in. God knows I won't be able to see things fully through his eyes, so he tells me I am to trust in Him. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Be still and take a step back are pretty close, don't you think? In John 14:1 Jesus tells his disciples "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."

The advice to take a step back doesn't change. However, according to the Bible, God is the bigger picture. We are to take a step back and direct our attention to God. Realizing that God is in control sets us free from worry and his greatness outshines my situation. I have to ask myself, would God really want me to lose my temper with a person who has hurt me? In a time of suffering, I need to remember that Jesus Christ suffered more than I could ever imagine and he knows my pain.

The problem is that we want control of our lives. Even during times of difficulty we find things to hold onto. We don't want to see God as bigger than our bitterness, our jealousy, our pain, our suffering, and so we continue carrying our burdens. But God wants us to be still or to stop for a moment and take a reality check. When was the last time you took a moment to think about your life? When was the last time you took a moment to think about God?

The reality is that God is most definitely bigger than any of our problems. God knows the larger scale issue of our sin and he knows the exact details of our lives. He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins and when we trust in Jesus we are given a new outlook on life. The events around us may not change, but seeing things through the light of who God is can change our perspective and help us to move forward.

• Jon-Michael Gwinnell is a staff member at Echo Ranch Bible Camp.

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