Identifying the Big Picture When You're Overwhelmed by the Details

One of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring painting techniques to me is Pointillism. Thousands and thousands of tiny dots or strokes made to create a masterpiece. Here are two famous examples of pointillism. 

When you look at these works of art you see the big picture, look closer and you will see the details that make up the end result. 

Vincent Van Gogh and George Seurat had that ability to focus on the details while keeping sight of the big picture.

Often in the Christian life, we work diligently on the details, while forgetting the big picture. 

My tendency is to willingly overlook or get overwhelmed by the details. Our lives are filled with details!

When it comes to running a home, being a wife, and mothering 7 children the details are everyday life. Tasks like picking up a hundred toys off the floor, checking to see if every toilet in the house needs to be flushed (I have 5 boys!), or scheduling when to get out in the Texas summer heat to run errands all blur my vision. 

The details often crowd out my view of the big picture. Maybe this is a problem you struggle with.

Identifying the Big Picture

What is the big picture anyway? 

So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:10

The big picture is for us to bring glory to God, the One who gave us all the wonderful blessings. The creator of ALL the details!

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

This problem of focusing solely on the details isn’t a modern one. Remember the Israelites? They were a detail-focused people! Their circumstances determined their mood on almost every page of the Pentateuch. We aren’t really that different. 

And the problem isn’t isolated to our home life. We drag that 2-ton weight along with us to church and complain about anything that’s not done exactly how we want. Yes, even the pastor’s wife is guilty of this. I’ve caught myself grumbling about something I thought should be different. 

The details are tripping us up. 

No matter where we are, the driving force in everything we think, say, and do is to bring glory to God. Let us not be quick to consider how we can be more comfortable or how our desires are not being met. Instead, let us ask, “Is God being glorified in this situation?” 

Acknowledging that others are looking at the big picture from a different perspective humbles us and moves us to a path that is righteous. That is the path God strongly desires for us to be on and He leads us there. (Psalm 23:4) 

Thank you, Jesus! Without Him, we would never find the path.

Walk on the Righteous Path

If we put Colossians 1:10 and Psalm 23:4 together we can see the beauty of God walking along side us in our progressive sanctification. Our goal is to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord on paths of righteousness. 

Super! Now, what does the path of righteousness look like and what is a manner worthy of the Lord?

We don’t have to guess at what the path of righteousness looks like. All praise to a merciful God who knew that we couldn’t navigate this world without a guidebook. He gave us His Word and throughout Scripture, we see what is and what isn’t the path of righteousness. 

His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Ps 119:105)

The path of righteousness is not one leading to debauchery, sexual immorality, gossip, greed, anger, or evil desire. On the contrast, it is one leading to compassion, kindness, forgiveness, thankfulness, and peace. (There are many more actions listed throughout Scripture!)

God, through His Word and the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers, will lead us to this path. Yet, we must follow along the path. Our attitude must be one that desires to please the Lord. This is what brings us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. 

A manner worthy of the Lord is one that is characterized by 

  • humility, 
  • gentleness, 
  • patience, 
  • love, 
  • unity, 
  • good fruit, and 
  • increasing in the knowledge of God. (Eph 4:2-3, Phi 1:27, Col 1:10, Rom 7:4)

Certainly, not an easy list to master, but one that is worth fighting for every day!

If we had to choose one to focus on for a week (or a lifetime), love would be a great start. When we love the way Christ loved us, we become more humble and gentle and … Love starts a domino effect that leads us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. 

In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that love is the greatest among faith, hope, and love. 

Without love we are nothing. As faith without works is dead (James 2:26), so “Christianity” without love is dead…Love is not defined according to human standards but by God, who is love. When someone is transformed by God’s love, then he or she will reflect this love to others.  God’s Word commands, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7–8).  Answers in Genesis

Loving others begins by simply putting their needs above ours. Our flesh is selfishly screaming, “serve ME”, the Holy Spirit is lovingly screaming, “serve others”! You are no longer a slave to your flesh, but you do have to actively beat that beast into submission.

When we CHOOSE to lay aside our desires at home or at church, we are GLORIFYING GOD. That is the big picture. But if we lose sight of the big picture we begin to forget about the details. Before we know it, we’ve painted a picture that looks more like a Jackson Pollack instead of a Seurat. God has given us the tools to create a masterpiece that reflects His glory, I pray we will use them to focus on the details while keeping sight of the big picture.