Missing the Forest For the Trees
We whitewashed our picket fence last summer—all twenty-six-thousand miles of it. Did I say twenty-six thousand? I meant two-hundred-and-sixty feet of pickets and posts—front, back, and all countless edges. It was quite an undertaking for two people.
Did we use a power sprayer to speed things along? No, we hand painted. Wanted the paint nice and thick so there’d be no repeating the experience anytime soon.
Where was Tom Sawyer when we needed him? That little rascal sure had a knack for convincing passersby to help him. Not so with us. Our two granddaughters who pitched in first time around were nowhere to be found. They are older and far wiser now. It was probably the long hours, excessive heat, layers of bug spray, and the plastic shower caps over their hair that finally did them in (wish we had a pictorial record of it!). Ticks are definitely the downside to our wooded backyard.
This time we were on our own. Days turned into a week, with countless hours of stooping and squatting, sitting and standing. Paint found its way into my hair and onto clothing no matter my carefulness. I’d dab sweat, dodge wasps, flick spiders, and look down the line at what seemed like miles of sections ahead of us. Could some devious soul be adding fence in the night? But we kept at it.
And almost missed the beauty in it—that missing the forest for the trees sort of thing. Sure, every slat, every post brought us closer to our finish line. But what if, in pursuing our goal, we had missed the bigger experience? Like the stir of the occasional breeze that refreshed us. Or the adorable tree frog bound and determined to make his rival claim on a fence post. Or nature’s soothing (and often captivating) voices attending every stroke of our brushes, keeping us company. What if we’d missed the opportunity to slow down, talk, pray, laugh?
How many times, in the ordinariness of our days, do we miss experiencing Christ because our eyes are fastened on the glorious finish? Are we sometimes so focused on pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14), or so in a hurry to get through the stress of today, that we lose awareness of the journey itself? The apostolic prayer in Ephesians 1:16–20 (a staple in the Hope City KC prayer room) asks God for a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep, and intimate] knowledge of Him (vs.17). Verse 18 takes things deeper by asking that the eyes of our understanding be enlightened; that you may know and understand, (experience) the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints . . .and the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe . . .
Perhaps, like me, today you needed another little nudge to ask for this deeper spiritual enlightenment so that our journey would be hands-on, senses-engaged living in Christ. That we would know and understand (experience) Him for ourselves—in the good, the hard, the sad, the mad, the weepy, unusual, exciting, hazardous . . . even the yawn-and-drawn-out days we're on this earth.