This is the creepy close up to my house that Google Maps has on their satellite image database. My favorite part is my ’95 Civic parked in the driveway, a.k.a. the best car ever, which is sadly no longer with us, R.I.P.
This is typically how our anxiety feels: right on top of us.
If you could bottle up your life’s total anxiety, how big would that bottle be?
I recently finished reading the book of Job. What a nutty book. If you’re not familiar with the story: Job has everything, God takes it away from him and he suffers terribly, his friends give him bad advice (which plays out like a “health-and-wealth” + “is God sovereign?” debate), God then shows up and puts Job and his friends in their place, then gives Job all his stuff back).
A large portion of the book is Job crying out to God and questioning why God would inflict him with such trouble. His questioning seems quite justified due to what he’s going through. Job 38-41 are God dictating what is essentially an in depth script to a National Geographic documentary, following each scene with, “Job, can you make that happen? Can you make that happen? Because I make these things happen.” Behemoths, Leviathans, mountain goats giving birth, laying the earth’s foundation, and so on. You name it, God pretty much covers it.
In spite of all the pain Job has gone through, God’s message to him is simply: Zoom out.
It’s not that God isn’t personal and it’s not that God doesn’t care. Other parts of Scripture hit on those truths as loud as can be. But in the book of Job the resounding message is how huge God is and how tiny we are.
How many generations has God witnessed?
How many wars have passed before his watch?
How many natural disasters have come and gone?
How many cancer diagnoses, marriage problems, unemployment lines, break-ups, money problems, stress, funerals, plans to take over the world and plans to save the world has He been a witness to?
A whole bunch.
Watch what happens when I click the “zoom out” button on my creepy Google Map photo:
Where did my now-dead Civic go?
It’s not that it doesn’t exist in the photo anymore, it’s that there is a broader perspective shown. You can now see the entire neighborhood along with some parks and businesses, rather than my house alone.
Click “zoom out” again:
Churches, hotels, colleges, hospitals and cities.
And a whole bunch of houses you can now barely see.
Try to capture how much anxiety is in this photo. If you could bottle it up, how big would that bottle be? It’s safe to say there is no bottle in existence to contain the millions of problems and tragedies contained in this single neighborhood photo. Is this photo large or small? Zooming out again may help answer that:
Major cities, enormous bodies of water, states, countries.
Enough anxiety to drown in a few times over.
Imagine if all of the anxiety represented in this photo was yours to solve…
Are you feeling small yet?
If we continue to zoom out:
Can anyone find my Civic in this picture?
The thing is, the universe isn’t even big to God. He made it by speaking it into existence. It’s obvious why He made it: to simply blow our minds with how huge He is. Yet how quickly we forget this when all we see is our Civic.
I’m not trying to treat the things you’re anxious about as if they aren’t significant or legitimate, and I don’t think God is either. But there are truths about God that if we were able to really grasp them (as best we can in our finite state), it would fill us with peace in a way nothing else can.
One of our primary issues is we have this idea that God’s plan revolves completely around our one specific life. If our life goes bad, God must be bad. If our life goes good, God must be good. We also have the idea that his plan will be fully completed by the end of our lifetime. The world looks dark, thus God must have forgotten about us.
Think about how dark some periods of history were. World War II. American slavery and the Civil War. The Crusades. Heck, an entire period of history is called The Dark Ages! And this isn’t even touching on the long parts of Old Testament history where God’s people completely abandoned him. The point is, darkness and the effects of sin have been around for a long time. Round and round the carousel they go. Yet, God’s plan of redemption continues to march on. People still find grace and mercy. People continue to be rescued from sin. In the darkest places, redemption and soul transformation are found.
Certain things we are anxious over are going to continue to be there.
Sometimes God will remove them, other times he won’t. When he doesn’t: zoom out.
Remember God’s sovereignty.
Remember God’s eternal perspective.
A perspective that we honestly will never fully have in our finite temporary bodies in a finite temporary reality.
Remember that God is still our only hope, even in spite of the most trying circumstances.
Zoom out and realize God is bigger than you.
Zoom out and realize God’s plan is bigger than you.
Zoom out and wait on the Lord.
Zoom out and rest in the Lord.
- Ep. 38: Jesus’ Love for the Outcast & how this Grace Transforms Each of Us - November 18, 2020
- Another Path for Gay Christians: Friendship as a Lost Vow - November 18, 2020
- Ep. 37: Jesus bringing great calm to great chaos + new Flip Side book club exploring gay celibate partnerships with Wesley Hill - October 24, 2020