The Overflow

living in the overflow of God's goodness through every season

The Small Things... The Big Picture

FaithMakayla Stewart1 Comment
Photo Credit: Katie Santarelli

Photo Credit: Katie Santarelli

“Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say continually ‘the LORD be magnified.’” Psalm 40:16

Does it ever seem like you are too busy? The long to-do list, running from one direction to another, feeling like everything depends on you. You run through the day’s schedule and go to bed just to wake up the next morning to do it all again without much thought to why you are doing it or how much it really matters. You get that sense of always running but never coming to an end or completing your tasks.

But when did the value of my day become based on how many things I could squeeze into it or my value on how much I could get done in a day? It appears we are in a battle against time. We are constantly chasing time around the clock, seeking to gain as much of it as we can before it slips away. Ironically, we don't know how much time we have. We are not the holders of time, yet time still sways the decisions we make. It directly influences how we handle mistakes. Mistakes ruin the schedule by taking up more time and throwing us off schedule. Mistakes make control freaks flip out and others start to feel a little tension and stress. It seems we have allowed ourselves to be so high strung that any little mishap might set us off into a fit of frustration. As Christians, are we any different in the way we handle life’s little moments, our stress, and our time? If we really apply our Biblical worldview to our lives, then our view of time, mistakes, and the value of ourselves would be completely infected by God's perspective.

Perhaps the small things of life have allowed the big picture to become blurred and out of focus. The big picture, the purpose of life, why anything or anyone exist at all - is all for the glory of God. The Apostle Paul defines it this way: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). When you look at life from Gods perspective, those small things - running 5 minutes late, spilling coffee, the last mistake - are really not that important. Just think: how much will those things even matter ten years from now? What if we based what matters on God’s standard? That means that the next decision you make is faced with the question: does this glorify God? And when life does not go as planned, the fact that God works all things together for His glory and purpose is still operating in the midst of it all. 

Photo Credit: Katie Santarelli

Photo Credit: Katie Santarelli

It is so easy for us to get caught up in the daily, little things of life and forget that every moment is for the glory of God. We forget that God owns everything and that God is in control of the next breath we take. For “In His hands is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). We give ourselves the false sense of control when we think that this day is ours to plan, when really it is God’s. He made it and already has it planned out.

When we know that God is in control, we have the opportunity to live a worry-free life. It is mind-blowing that we oftentimes turn down the offer and choose to despair in worry and frustration, trying to pull all the brokenness and disorder together on our own and make a mosaic that in reality, only God’s hand can miraculously create. Here the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 6 come in as a reminder.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:25-33

The truth in this passage allows us to live like God’s children, carefree but not careless, allowing God to be our Daddy and handle the problems as they come though His wisdom, not ours. When we find ourselves worrying and all worked up about something, we can take a breath and calm down, trusting that God has this moment all taken care of. When pride sets in, we can recall that nothing is accomplished without God and reflect the praise to Him. As life gets full and chaotic, we can go back to the simple “what would Jesus do?” As indicated in Matthew chapter 6, we know that trusting God in the little things will allow us to focus on glorifying Him in all things. 

Photo Credit: Katie Santarelli

Photo Credit: Katie Santarelli

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis says it this way:

Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.” When we allow God to be the conductor of our day, everything else - all those little things in the midst of it - just fall into place where God wants them.

My perspective on life’s daily matters recently shifted when a book I read for a Bible study challenged me to pray differently. On an upcoming trip, instead of praying for safety and for nothing to go wrong or mess up, I prayed for God’s will to be done in that trip, that whatever happened would be for the glory of God and not for my own benefit. This forced me to trust that God had a bigger plan than I did, that He was in control of everything, and that glorifying God really was the sole purpose of my life. “For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16, emphasis added). This viewpoint caused me to let go of my extreme effort, my trying harder to be like Christ, and my trying to be perfect all at the same time.

Seeking for God to be glorified places us directly in God’s will. Suddenly all the decisions we make and all the things we do are up to God, not us. We do use the brain He has given us and moral code He has written on our hearts, but we are going to need to be in constant communication with Him through prayer to understand how to bring the most glory to Him. Reading and studying the Bible becomes as necessary as water, as we seek to know how God wants us to live. It becomes imperative that we know what His voice and Spirit sound like so we can be in tune with His nudges. Making the decision to glorify God - doing what may be counter-cultural, letting go of worry, serving others, thinking God’s thoughts after Him - has placed me doing the actions I should as a Christian. Living the way God desires stems from the mindset of glorifying Him and allows me to put on the mind of Christ in my attitude and perspective. My desires are replaced with His, selfishness is replaced with selflessness, and the reasons for my actions and the actions themselves are dramatically changed from worldly to godly. God is in control. We have nothing to worry about. We can just let go.

At the same time, this big picture view does not make the small things meaningless or unimportant, but rather gives them meaning and importance from a different angle and in a God-centered way. If my goal is to glorify God, then I will use everything He has given me to my fullest. From a worried and fearful perspective, where my best was never good enough, now it is sufficient because it is for God's glory. Now I can trust that He will fill in where I am lacking. Because now I am operating in His strength, not my own. Our salvation rests on God’s strength, so everything else in life does too. When tasks are done in God’s strength, the glory goes fully to Him and not to us. Our love for God and desire for Him to be glorified takes us over.  No longer are we bound to chase time or to be caught up in the worry of the moment. We are free. Free to live without questioning if my day had enough in it to make it valuable. No more do we have to fill every minute, but rather, we can enjoy what God fills our minutes with. We have no reason to burden ourselves with the worry and day’s pressing circumstances when God is the One who is meant to carry them. We can live the higher calling, freely embracing the love to glorify Him.

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His higher calling, and that by His power He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Photo Credit: Katie Santarelli

Photo Credit: Katie Santarelli

We’ve all heard of a person saying they love someone so much they would die for them. That’s great, but it is also the easy part. Maybe you would die for them, the greatest one-time act of love, but would you live for them? That is the hard part. Sure, I love God enough that I would die for His name’s sake. But do I love Him enough that I will live every day of my life for Him? That I will die every day to my own will, my desires, and my plans? That I will pick up my cross, the tasks and struggles that fill today’s moments, and live to bring God glory? That choice seems hard to make. Either way I am giving up my life.

But, oh, the joy! Matthew says,[Jesus’] yoke is easy and His burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Knowing we can do nothing apart from Christ is such joyful news because now my reliance is not on myself and my limited ability, but on God’s faithful, limitless power. My best may not be good enough, but God will work all things to His glory in spite of it. So as we embark on the next day and the unknown that it holds, we can choose to give the day to God because we know that life does not rely on our abilities but rests in God’s ability to work through us. And that is something only He can do, and He does it very well.

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36

All glory to God.