When I was in high school I was on the diving team. I made "Divisionals", I was so excited. Unfortunately, I also took a gymnastics class. I've never really been that athletic, although I tried. In diving, it is really important to always point your toes. In gymnastics, you need to make sure that you remember to un-point your toes before landing a trick. Maybe you can see where this is going. One day in my gymnastics class we were doing front walkovers, no big deal until my diving instincts kicked in and I kept my toes pointed on the landing. CRACK went my ankle. It was PAINFUL! The teacher wanted me to go to the nurse. "No, I'm fine. Maybe I could just lay here for the rest of class." I said, mortified. I was so embarrassed. EVERYTHING was embarrassing to me in high school, and being sent to the nurse would have been unthinkable. I made it to the end of class and started down the cement staircase that led to the locker rooms. The pain was so bad that I literally couldn't handle it. I passed out. Luckily, there were people right behind me. Unluckily, they saw me going down and jumped out of the way. I completely collapsed on the cement staircase right in front of everyone. To make matters worse, when I woke up, they loaded me into a golf cart with a security guard, that the kids had a horrible nick name for, and I was driven across campus during lunch time to the nurse. Everyone could see me. From the nurses office I was sent to the hospital. I didn't break my ankle but I did severely sprain it. It looked disgusting, it was huge and black and blue from the end of my toes to the bottom of my calf- YUCK! It was also painful. I still went to diving practice every day but I wasn't allowed in the pool. I sat and watched and cheered my team mates on, hoping that I would be healed in time for Divisionals. I wasn't. I was almost healed but the doctor said that he wouldn't recommend diving on it. He thought I should give it a couple more weeks. I thought it would be the end of the world if I didn't dive in Divisionals, after all, it was the CHANCE OF A LIFETIME, right? Now, you've got to understand, I was never a very good diver. I barely made Divisionals, but at the time it seemed like the biggest thing in the world. I didn't care if I messed up my ankle for good, I just wanted the chance to dive in the big meet. So I did! It was a disaster! I looked ridiculous. Like I said, I was never that good anyway. I was always afraid to go high, I thought I would hit the board on the way down (of course it's more likely to hit the board if you don't go high, but fear isn't always rational). I always thought I was really close to hitting my head on the board. It was probably because after I did any flipping dive, you could go to the end of the board and pull some of my hair off of it. My hair was LONG and as I'd flip around, it would almost always smack the end of the board. I should have braided it or something but I guess I just wasn't that bright. Anyway, the point is that I wasn't a very good diver to begin with and now I was "handicapped". Here I was, at Divisionals, still limping and up on the diving board. I limped up to my lame approach and threw each dive as hard as I could straight off the end of the board. I had even less height than usual so I really had to throw myself. I looked ridiculous! I am not exaggerating when I say that in every picture of my dives the judges are either in the background laughing at me or completely ignoring me. I tried to think that they were just having fun, but they aren't laughing in the pictures where other people are diving. I look at the pictures now and see why they are laughing. I have one foot completely pointed and the other is flexed and I'm barely above the water. What was I thinking? I was thinking that I would have missed out on a great opportunity if I didn't take the chance. I wasn't being wise though. Because I dove on my still sprained ankle, I had a lot of extra healing to do. I swelled up and bruised again and it was quite a problem for several years afterward. I should have listened to my doctor but I wasn't looking at the big picture. I was only looking at what my life was right then, what was right in front of me. All that existed for me was the present and that is what I went after.
I hadn't taken Driver's Ed at that point in my life. If I had, maybe I would have looked at the BIG PICTURE. The big picture was stressed in our Driver's Ed class. When the teacher said this, he meant to make sure that you don't just focus on what is right ahead of you but instead, make sure that you know what is happening all around you. Don't just look at where you want to be going, look where you could go if an obstacle should suddenly appear and look at where you've been in the rearview and side mirrors to see if something is coming up from behind you. Know what or who is next to you on other side and notice how they are driving, are they safe? Who are you following, are they safe? Look way ahead to see what the conditions of the road look like, what the weather might be and if there are any obstacles that you need to be prepared for.
If I had taken Driver's Ed and heard about the big picture before Divisionals, maybe I would have thought more about my future and the the future needs for my ankle and realized that Divisionals would not be important to me down the road. Maybe I would have done that, but probably not. I was never very good at seeing the big picture in my life as far as things like that went. Everything that was important to me a the moment was what was important, I'll confess that there is still some of that in me. I have to remind myself to stop and think about what I'm doing and if it's beneficial for my future or the future of my children or if it's just something that seems that way right now. I know that I have a tendency to get "hooked" on something. If there is something I find that I enjoy, I jump in, feet first and usually over my head, then I realize that I'm in too deep and nothing else is being accomplished and I have to pull out, take a few steps back and reevaluate what is really important. Wouldn't it be great if I would just stop before jumping in and ask the Lord if it's something He has for me right then and if so how much time should I devote to it? Yes, it would be great. Hopefully, I'll get better at doing just that. I have gotten better at doing just that, but I still have a long way to go. I think we all do. I don't think that I'm alone in this lack of looking at the big picture.
Kids definitely do not see the big picture! It's our job to help them do that and it is a HARD job. They want what they want and they want it now regardless of the consequences it will bring. Hopefully the little things bring little consequences now so they never have to learn with the big consequences later. They also have a hard time looking behind them at where they have been. My daughter Hope is three and has burned herself on the stove two times. You always hear people say, "Well, they will do it once but they will never do it again!" That isn't true. We have a flat top stove. It is white until it gets hot and then it gets red (most of the time). Hope must think it's pretty when it's red because that is when she wants to touch it. She knows that she isn't supposed to touch it but she positions herself to where she is right in front of it and I guess the temptation is overwhelming. Both times she touched it were after warnings not to do so. We thought that she was old enough to understand that when we said it would hurt that it actually would, we were wrong. After the first time, I did think, "Well, at least she knows now and she'll never do it again." That was wrong. Even though that was in her past, she didn't learn from it. We reminded her about it, but somehow she lost the big picture and touched it again. Kid's aren't prepared to see the big picture, we have to teach them how to look at it, after we learn ourselves.
Another age group that is especially bad at viewing the big picture is teenagers, sorry guys. I was HORRIBLE at seeing the big picture as a teenager. Everything seemed like life or death back then. What people thought of me was sooooo important to me. I wanted to be liked more than anything and especially wanted boys to like me. I felt worthless and was willing to do almost anything to get attention or approval. I was so insecure and had no idea how big God was or how much He loved me. You know, I think that is the key to really seeing the big picture. Knowing God, getting to know Him and how much He loves us. Living our lives for His sake and following where He leads us. He always sees the big picture, He IS the big picture. He will never lead us astray or run us off the road, He is the road. "6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6
So, I guess what I'm saying is that as you are driving along in your life, make sure you look all around and don't get caught up in what is right in front of you. Learn from your past and realize that your present isn't the entirety of your life, you will pass it soon, it's only a season. It may be past in the blink of an eye or you may be in a school zone or traffic jam right now so it seems to drag on a bit longer. Don't worry, it will pass! You'll be on another scenic highway in no time. If you should encounter a dust or hail storm and can't see past a few feet, pull over, turn off your lights so no one crashes into you and pray. Take the time to stop and pray! Spend it with the Lord, wait until the sky is clear and you can see your road again. Enjoy the trip and have fun, get to know the people you are riding with, after all, that's what road trips are all about.