Thursday, July 26, 2007

Seeing Past Right Now (February 2007 article)

I really struggle with seeing the big picture. My tendency is to stare at what’s right in front of me. What’s evident. What’s pressing. The here and now. I’m not talking so much about what to wear, where to eat, or what to put in the CD player on my drive home from the office. I’m talking about circumstances. What I am faced with. Challenges. Obstacles. Detours. It’s in the midst of life’s inconveniences that I have difficulty seeing beyond myself. It’s at these times that I am the most self-centered.

What’s funny is that it isn’t always a “real” problem or life-altering event that prompts me to behave this way. Not a serious illness in the family, a financial crisis, or relationship conflict. It’s the leaks in the plumbing, the car trouble, or unexpectedly missing two flights to the destination of your 10-year wedding anniversary, then landing and being without luggage for two days. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

It’s been said that adversity doesn’t build character, but reveals it. Ouch. If that is true (and I believe it is), I have a long, uphill climb ahead. This became evident to me recently on a family vacation. It was “drive home” day. The minivan was packed full, and had six Phillips’ on board. I was in great spirits after a terrific vacation…that is, until we quickly found ourselves off-course. As great as internet map sites can be, they fail to mention that road signs aren’t always immediately available to point you in the right direction.

So, after literally driving around in one rather large 10-mile circle, which involved an ill-timed exit and a 75-cent toll, I had had it! I was ill. At my wit’s end. And, while I wasn’t blaming anyone for the problem (after all, I was behind the wheel), I certainly didn’t make any allies with my attitude. After mumbling, “this is a disaster” under my breath a few times, I decided to focus my attention elsewhere. I said a little prayer, and asked God to help me pull it together. And guess what – he helped me. Immediately, I began to think of how ridiculous I had been. How I was only adding to the problem. Then God reminded me how all of us were safe, and that in the grand scheme of life, a 45-minute “detour” was not a big deal.

Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps you get caught up in the moment sometimes, and your vision gets blurry. You fail to pause and feel the safety of God’s arms being wrapped around you. It’s easy to do. It’s completely normal to flail in the quicksand of the unexpected detours we encounter in life, rather than basking in the true blessings God has selflessly given to us. But, it’s not what God wants for us.

You know, I learned some invaluable lessons in the wake of our circuitous route out of town that day. I was reminded that my family means more to me than the quickest way home. And, I was reminded that my Father can not only be trusted to guide me, but that I need Him to guide me. You need that, too. And, the good news is, no matter how off-course you’ve gotten, God is eager to help!

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