We all know the familiar expression “He can’t see the forest for the trees.” It is used to describe a person who is so absorbed in the things right in front of him that he has lost a sense of the bigger picture. I believe this is exactly what has happened to many Christians in the twenty-first century—we have become so absorbed by the “trees” of our everyday lives that we have lost a sense of the bigger story within which our lives take place. We grow up, go to school, begin careers, get married, have kids, and struggle daily with life’s challenges. These are trees of our lives that occupy most of our waking hours.
Our church lives are not all that different. We go to church each week, sing some songs, and listen to a sermon. Maybe we even pray before meals, read our Bibles daily, and participate in small-group Bible studies. But they can become just more trees in a life already cluttered with trees. What happened to the forest; what happened to the bigger story? Who are we? Why are we here, and where are we headed? How do we fit into God’s big story? A hiker who no longer has a sense of the bigger landscape around him becomes lost and confused, often wandering in circles because he is disoriented and no longer knows where he has come from or where he is headed. If we are ever truly going to find purpose and meaning in our lives, we have to rise above the trees to rediscover the forest—we have to understand what God is doing in the world and how we fit in.
Fortunately, as Christians we have a way out of this dilemma. If God is the Author of the bigger story within which our own stories take place, if he is the Creator of the forest in which we all walk, then we can find the deepest meaning and purpose of our lives only when we discover the role he uniquely created for us to play in his bigger purpose. Doesn’t it make sense that the Author of the bigger story, the Author who created each of the characters in the story, would have a specific role for each of those characters to play?
The implication of this is profound. God created you intentionally to play a very specific role in his unfolding story. God didn’t create any extras meant to just stand on the sidelines and watch the story unfold; he created players meant to be on center stage. And you will feel fully complete only when you discover the role you were born to play. . . .
I invite you to revisit the breathtaking truth, the urgent mission, and the profound personal significance of our Christian faith as we seek to follow the One who died that we might have life and have it to the full.
From Unfinished by Richard Stearns. ©2013 (Thomas Nelson). Used by permission.
As President of World Vision U.S., Rich Stearns has guided the organization to unprecedented growth and called on the church in America to respond to the global AIDS pandemic. Established in 1950, World Vision has more than 45,000 staff serving children and families affected by poverty and injustice in nearly 100 countries. Rich and his wife, Reneé, have five grown children and one grandchild.
Unfinished: Believing is Only the Beginning
So you believe in God. Now what? Rich Stearns takes us on a breathtaking journey to rediscover the critical mission of Christ in our world today and the richness of God’s calling on our lives. “Just when I dare think my work is done, Rich reminds me that we are just getting started.” —Max Lucado, pastor and best-selling author
Also available: Unfinished DVD Study, a six-session small group Bible study.