Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Whole Picture

Until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words: wait and hope. 
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Let me begin by saying: this is not a book post. So if you are one of the habitual few who like to skip those (I will name no names--but I know who you are...), keep reading. It only starts with a book. I promise.

The big boys and I have been slowly reading through The Wind and the Willows together before bed. Recently, we came to the portion of the book where Badger, Mole, and Rat stage an intervention for automobile obsessed Toad (who is regularly wrecking those glorious machines with aplomb). After their lecture does no good, they lock him up in his bedroom to detox, taking turns guarding him so he doesn't escape.

When I closed the book for the night, I turned to Littles and asked him what he thought of Badger, Mole, and Rat. Were they being good friends or bad friends to Toad?

"Bad friends," he replied. And it does kind of look like that. They don't let him do what he wants. They essentially kidnap him. They deprive him of his rights (to drive about in motor cars that say poop-poop!).

We talked for a while about why Toad's friends were actually good friends who were looking out for his best interests (and the interests of those he might run over with aforementioned motorcars), and then I tucked the boys in for the night.

Since then, I've been thinking about the difference between a six year old perspective and a 29 year old perspective. His life experiences lends itself to a very narrow level of understanding. Twenty three years down the line, I see and understand a bit more.

I know now that sometimes what seems painful at the time can actually be for my own benefit. We see this in almost any form of discipline. Running hurts but it keeps you healthy. Practicing scales can be mind numbing, but it helps you enjoy your instrument more. Cleaning the bathrooms can be gross, but it keeps the germs away. We know these things.

Sometimes, though, because we know these things, we forget how much we still don't know. If the wisdom gap between a 6 year old and a 29 year old is this (         ) big, how huge must the gap be between our understanding and God's?

I don't know what it is in your life: job loss, depression, miscarriage, illness, death of a loved one, even something as small as an unexpected change of plans or a bad day. When faced with situations beyond our control, our gut instinct is frustration. Why is this happening? How could this be happening to me? What can I do to make this stop? And before you jump to any conclusions, no, the answer is not always that you are being disciplined.

Sometimes we're just not quite ready to understand what's really going on. We can't see enough with our limited life experience. We just aren't there yet. We're seeing this (   ). God is seeing this (                        ) times infinity. And that's okay. Much like I don't expect my 6 year old to understand at a 29 year old level, God doesn't expect us to see and understand with his magnitude of wisdom.

I included a quotation at the beginning of the blog written by Alexandre Dumas. The truth is that God hasn't yet "deign[ed] to reveal the future to man", and it might be better for everyone if we remember that our very limited wisdom can't see far past the ends of our noses. At times it looks like we've been bullied, kidnapped, and robbed of our rights. The very Best Friend doesn't look like such a good friend any more. We feel betrayed. Sometimes, even the sum total of human wisdom--wait and hope--is very hard.

This doesn't seem like much of an encouraging word, but I am saying it anyway, even if I'm saying it mostly to myself. Wait and hope, even when it's hard, especially when it's hard. The truth is that we're not seeing the whole picture yet. It's bigger than we can comprehend, and that's okay.

Today I'm praying for all of us that we can remember that even if it doesn't look that way, Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and we can wait and hope knowing that no matter how things look we are seeing one tiny piece of the whole picture--and He is seeing it all.


  1. thank you for this... just what I needed to hear before I tuck myself into bed tonight. xo

  2. Toad is the best. And I've finished translating one and a half slides. And it seems you're gearing up to write another devotional books, all proceeds of which should come to me to facilitate my visits to your home.