The Big Picture
Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Three years ago, a week before life fell apart, I had the opportunity to be involved in a save-a-life kind of event in the emergency room. I remember desperately wanting to be known as that guy, the hero. At the same time, my life was crumbling. Hints and suspicions told me that my addiction was coming to light. The heroic image I coveted was about to evaporate and I shuddered at the approaching calamity.
When it hit, it was every bit as horrible as I expected. Life came apart. Naively, I hoped that my good works in life would balance out my toxic behavior. Maybe people will see all the good that I’ve done and view this as a minor setback. It was not just a little fall though, it was spectacular. I was an addict and at that moment, addiction defined my life.
When someone fails epically, we are quick to define that person by the fall. When an addict relapses, we declare him a failure. Likewise, when he recovers for a month and finds God, we often declare him recovered. We are terminally short-sighted and cannot see beyond the moment.
In my addiction and subsequent destruction, I saw only the disaster. I could not see the possibility of redemption and I dared not imagine that God would somehow use it for good eventually. I am branded an addict for life. As it turned out, it was a defining point in my life, just not the way I imagined at the time.
Paul, in today’s passage, said that God works from a different perspective than we do. While we are trapped in time, living moment to moment, God sees the big picture and plays the long game. Where we see momentary successes and failures, He sees the final outcome. He knows that his children will have ups and downs but will one day be made perfect in him.
God can see that though I may fail spectacularly, I will one day, be made complete. That which seems to define me now, for better and worse, in a thousand years, will not matter. In a hundred years, only my eternal spirit life will exist and in that spirit life, I will be made perfect in God.
This does not mean that I should do whatever I want as God will eventually fix everything. My destructive behavior still causes misery in this life. It does mean that when I fall, life is not over. God is continually working in me, even when I am blind to it. God plays the long game.