The Bigger Picture

We can’t see it.

We like to tell ourselves that we can, but we can’t.

Sometimes, if we position ourselves just right, we can bolster our perspective and see a situation from new angles or in a new light. But the bigger picture?

Your body is made up of roughly seven octillion atoms. That’s 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 particles, each invisible to the naked eye, linked and joined together in just the right way to guarantee your continued existence. Zoom the camera in closer and you’ll see an even stranger world of subatomic particles populated by quarks, leptons, and bosons, all interacting according to rules that fly in the face of anything that makes sense on a macro level. Zoom the camera out and you’ll find 118 flavors of atoms combining and separating and recombining into countless formations, structures, and states, eventually resolving into the world we call home. On that world, you’ll find complex and varied biomes, ecosystems, food webs, weather systems, tectonic activity, and magnetic fields that are linked together in ways we’re still discovering.

Keep zooming out, and you’ll find a little blue-green planet hurtling around a giant, erupting sphere of thermonuclear fusion surrounded by a handful of other spectacularly unique planets, each with their own rotational speeds and axial tilts.

Zoom out some more and you’ll see a galaxy stuffed full of these stars and solar systems, all arrayed in a cosmic spiral peppered with gratuitous amounts of space rock and stardust that spins and rotates but never comes undone.

And that’s just one galaxy in a universe that, as near as we can tell, is expanding with increasing speed against—what appear to be the boundaries of this physical reality.

Oh, and it’s stuffed with dark matter, which we think makes up 85% of the universe even though we can’t see it or directly interact with it, so there’s that.

You want the real kicker? That’s not even the bigger picture. That’s just the canvas.

No. Not even that. That’s just a freeze-frame of the canvas.

The bigger picture is painted across more than 6,000 years of human history, and it encompasses the inner struggles of every human who has ever lived, all tied into the rise and fall of political dynasties, conquering empires, and world religions. Every word, every thought, every movement plays into everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen.

And God sees all of it. All the time.

He can’t just see all of that canvas—He designed it. Built it from nothing. And He has a plan for the picture being painted across its surface. He understands how every stroke will lead into the next, and He is guiding it to become the finished masterpiece He had in mind since before the foundation of the earth.

That’s the bigger picture.

You can’t see it. Neither can I. We get glimpses, and God gives us all the instruction and direction we need to be an effective part of it, but the true, full, complete bigger picture?

If we held even a fragment of that picture in our minds for a single moment, our brains would fry. Consider that the holy day plan itself only takes us to just beyond the end of the human race, when death is cast away and all things are made new. We don’t know what comes after that. We don’t know what eternity really looks like. I doubt we could even begin to comprehend it.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

(Isaiah 55:8-11)

A huge part of being a Christian means trusting God with the bigger picture—and more importantly, trusting that even when we think we can see it, we really can’t. We are each of us but a single bundle of seven octillion atoms on a planet of nearly eight billion other bundles of atoms. None of us has the perspective or the brain power required to hold the bigger picture in our head—but that’s okay. We don’t need to. It’s enough to know that God can—and does. And then, in turn, He gives us the framework and guidance we need to make the decisions we need to make and live the life we need to live while we wait for Him to finish the painting.

Because one day, we’re going to stand beside Him, made fully in His image, thinking like He thinks and seeing as He sees. And when He shows us that same masterpiece through a new set of eyes, complete with a mind to fully comprehend what we’re looking at—to appreciate the perfect wisdom and the beauty of each stroke—I can only imagine there will be a single thought to express:

“Of course it had to be this way. Thank You for letting me be part of it.”

Until next time,

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