The Big Picture

Chennai Marathon 2010photo © 2010 Simply CVR | more info (via: Wylio)

Sometimes I have to remember that the big picture is more important than today.  That can be hard when the demands of today are right in my face and I want to be successful at every task and every challenge, but that’s just not how life works.

I am struggling through a lesson in “keeping the big picture in mind” in my marathon training.  I (finally!!!) went for a run in my Vibrams on Thursday after owning them for a couple of months.  It was SO fun, and it was only two miles right?  Wrong.  I stressed a joint in my right foot pretty hard, and made that foot awfully sore.  I went to the chiropractor and got it adjusted, and he told me a couple of things:

  1. I need to ice it twice a day.
  2. I can’t run my planned long run on Saturday; I had 20 miles on my goal sheet for this week and he said it ain’t happening.
  3. I need to take a couple of days off and rest it so that it won’t bother me long term and impact my ability to complete my first marathon in June.

“Remember,” Dr. Kevin told me, “your goal is the marathon in June, not 20 miles on Saturday.  Rest now to succeed then.”  I know he is right, so even though I would LIKE to take a run today, I can tell that my foot needs one more day of rest before getting out for a run.  So I will listen, even if (a big) part of me wants to get out for a run today.

I see Jesus practice something similar in Luke 4:1-13.  The temptations that He faced were real; the temptation to doubt the provision of God, the protection of God, and the plan of God were far more significant for Him than for us.  But Jesus wouldn’t take the bait.  He never let today, with its struggles and challenges and needs, get in the way of the bigger, more significant goal of glorifying the Father by fulfilling His plan in Jesus’ life.  He was focused on the larger, more significant goal rather than the minor, in-His-face goal.

I see this in myself too often spiritually too.  I put the urgent in front of the important.  I put time for sermon prep in my schedule but too often get too busy to spend time in significant prayer or non-prep Bible reading.  I prioritize mentorship but often not being mentored or just hanging with my wife and kids doing family stuff.  I too often put the intermediate goals (a good sermon, a smooth transition at church, a belt in kenpo) ahead of the big goals (glorifying God in my family life and ministry and self-defense).  And as I take a day off to rest, my foot reminds me that in those areas too I need to keep the bigger goals in mind and plan today with the end in mind.

How about you?  Where have you let the goals of today and the tyranny of the urgent get in the way of the bigger picture?  Are you focused on the big picture and setting goals appropriately, or are the minor battles and ideas of today so important that you have lost sight of the reason you are living to begin with?  And (maybe most importantly for me) can you mentally and emotionally allow what might look like a setback to be a reminder and a re-commitment to the more important objectives you’re chasing?

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