by Tim Hall
Have we become too wrapped up in details?
Jesus’ question to his disciples is intriguing: “How is it you do not understand?” (Mark 8:21, NKJV) He had just concluded an amazing miracle in which 4,000 were fed, using only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish (Mark 8:1-9). On a previous occasion, 5,000 men had been fed from only five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:35-44). Now, when Jesus warns about the leaven of the Pharisees, his followers think he is chiding them for forgetting to bring bread for their journey (Mark 8:13-21).
Jesus’ question was valid: Why did they not see the significance of those miracles? We can only speculate, but some things seem clear. On both occasions the disciples were put to work serving the food. Crowd control can be a difficult task, and people can get on one’s nerves. Serving the food quickly enough to satisfy hungry and complaining men can try one’s patience. Feeding such a large assembly meant that Jesus’ disciples had to rush around for a considerable period of time.
In carrying out their assignments, though, had these men stopped to consider the scene unfolding before them? Had God’s power ever been displayed like this? Ages before, the Israelites found food on the ground each morning as they awoke, but visible multiplication of fish and bread had never been witnessed. It should have prompted them to sing for joy as they served the hungry masses.
Our circumstances are different, but our challenges aren’t. As we attend to the details of what we do for the Lord, do we take time to consider the larger picture?
For worship to take place Sunday morning, someone must prepare communion. Other tasks include cleaning the building, unlocking the doors and turning on the lights, selecting songs for the congregation to sing and making sure those assigned to various duties are present and ready to serve. It can wear on one’s patience to get everything ready. But shouldn’t we pause and consider how awesome it is that God allows us to worship him? Have we forgotten the power, wisdom and goodness of our father above?
Serving needs can also be challenging. We must use leisure time to make the visit. The one we visit spends much time complaining, and our attempts to soothe their hurt feelings don’t seem to help. As we leave that visit we wonder if we’ve done any good at all. But pausing to see the bigger picture can help: We’ve just done the Lord’s will in making that visit (see Matthew 25:31-46). We likely did more good than we realize with the prayer we offered before leaving.
Do we fail to see the forest for the trees? God’s will is wonderful and serving him is a genuine privilege. God himself is awesome, and to be able to come into his presence is mind-boggling. When we take time to consider the big picture, we’ll be refreshed instead of depleted.