The Big Picture
Do you remember the feeling of being lost? Have you been in a corn maze where every cornstalk at every turn looks the same and you have no idea how to find your way out? Or how about hiking when you wander off the trail and you attempt to find your way back and all the trees look the same?
As a child, I remember one of my favorite attractions at Pacific Ocean Park (it is long gone), was the House of Mirrors. In the maze of mirrors, I remember having no idea which way to turn. Yet, everywhere I turned, I saw the same thing- ME!- Along with the myriad of available directions I could turn that reflected around me. I guess somehow, seeing myself in the midst of it all, it gave me the false assurance knowing that I could see myself and therefore, I knew where I was.
Being in any type of a maze, where you can only see the one step before you, can be un-nerving. We like to know what is around the corner, in both our footsteps and our lives. This myopia leaves you with the feeling of not knowing which direction or even how big of a step to take. It rings of the classic saying, you can’t see the forest for the trees, or the story of the children all touching a different part of the elephant and describing something very different.
Not Knowing What Is Coming Helps You Trust God
Yet, sometimes there is an advantage. When you don’t know the future, it can force you to trust more in God. When you really know God’s character, you may not know the future, but you know the person who does. He not only knows the future, but He also holds it in His hand and He will guide and direct us! That is more comforting than simply knowing the future, but being left to our own navigation!
But what if we have both? What if you trust God with your future and have a roadmap to tell you where you are going and what is up ahead? A roadmap can give us the “big picture” which can be very helpful in preventing wrong turns and wrong decisions. We can learn lessons more easily when we have a roadmap.
I know when I am learning something new, trying to grasp unrelated, solitary facts is very difficult. Often, they don’t make sense. It is only after I see how the pieces string together, that I begin to understand where the thoughts are going.
They Need to See the Big Picture
Kids are no different. They need to see the big picture to understand the smaller pieces of knowledge, as well. Scripture is very interrelated. For instance, you can’t understand God’s love and mercy until you understand his sinlessness. You can’t understand His justice until you understand His holiness. You really can’t fully comprehend the New Testament without understanding the Old Testament. These relationships are best seen when you show the whole picture. For an example, when you teach the character of God, first step back and teach about God generally. Then teach the attributes individually and interrelated. Then teach them again as a whole. You will have the kids understand them far better then just teaching them separately.
As you teach, you can keep this in mind and give a roadmap of where you are going before you set out, so your students have an idea of the big picture. If they know where they are going, it will make more sense to them. Then you need to be sure the individual pieces of knowledge are broken down sufficiently to be understandable. It is always useful to conclude with the big picture again in order to help them pull all of the facts back together. It is like the zoom effect on your camera. You zoom out to see the whole story, then zoom in to see the individual parts, then zoom out again to conclude the thought. You may do this several times throughout a lesson.
I have used this concept in my newest children’s picture book called, To The Rescue, which are vignettes of God rescuing His children throughout the Bible (including us). Children need to see that God in the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament and also the God they know now. This rescue theme that runs from the beginning to the end of the Bible will be more powerfully understood when the individual stories of the Bible are also viewed as the main story that threads through all of the Bible.
As you are bringing together your next lesson, remember the big picture! Don’t let your kids be lost in the house of mirrors. Remember…Big Picture… Zoom… Big Picture!