My son is in marching band this year, and each member of the band has his or her own set of steps to learn. No two people have the same drill, and yet everyone works together to form a cohesive show. My son knows this, but it didn’t really dawn on him until they had a competition recently, and the band directors sent a video of their show to each of the members to watch. As he watched the entire show, finally able to see everyone together, he said in awe, “Wow. I had no idea that’s what we look like. It’s neat to see the big picture.”
The big picture. Have you ever wondered what that looks like in your own life? Have you ever wanted a bird’s-eye view or an overview or your life to see how a particular season fits into the big picture? Are you making a difference at all, or are you just “going through the steps”? It’s easy to get so caught up in our daily routines that we fail to see the big picture. Our own perspective is limited by what we can see immediately surrounding us. But God doesn’t have such a limited view.
Consider for a moment the story of Joseph from the Old Testament. His brothers sold him into slavery, he was wrongly accused of inappropriate conduct, and ended up in prison in Egypt. So much for those dreams he’d had, where his brothers bowed down to him. How does ending up in jail fit into God’s bigger plan? It all must have seemed like a meaningless detour, a life gone horribly wrong. But set in the larger context of the salvation story of the Old Testament, God set Joseph up to enter Egyptian society as a powerful figure, second only in command to Pharaoh. This eventually led the children of Israel to settle in Egypt, which set the stage for the great exodus some 300 years later. Joseph couldn’t have foreseen this big picture when he was sitting in the prison, wondering what God’s plan was. But in retrospect, it’s easy to see how he fit into the story.
It’s not usually as easy for us to see God’s plan at work in our lives. We might feel like my son in marching band, performing the same drill every day, playing the same notes, starting and ending in the same place. Every. Single. Time. It might get monotonous. Perhaps you have young children at home, and every day seems the same—changing diapers, wiping runny noses, breaking up the same arguments, doing the same chores day in and day out. Or maybe you feel that your service to the church has become stagnant. You volunteer on the same committees year after year, serve in the same ways over and over again, and wonder if your service even makes a difference. Perhaps you question whether your vocation is worthwhile. You go to work day after day, repeat the same tasks, interact with the same people, and wonder if any of it matters. Or you might be a shut in and wonder if you have anything to offer anyone anymore. Your days seem repetitive and meaningless. If any of those scenarios resonate with you, let me encourage you: God has a perfect place for you in the bigger picture.
You will probably never be famous. You might be tempted to think that your service is insignificant. But that’s because your view is too limited. God sees the bigger picture, and God has choreographed your steps to be perfectly in line with those of His other children. Are you raising (or have you raised) children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord? You are passing along the faith so that another generation will know the Lord and can continue to work in His harvest field. Are you serving your neighbor through your vocation? You, too, are furthering God’s kingdom and reaching out in love to those around you. Are you serving your church? You are building up the body of Christ, encouraging others in their faith walk. Do you pray for others and for God’s will to be done? You are also an integral part of God’s kingdom work, serving Him by intercession. No members of God’s family are useless or insignificant.
One interesting thing about a marching band performance is that you only notice an individual member if he or she is absent or messes up. The point of marching band isn’t to stand out or show off. If you’re performing your drill correctly, you should just blend in and contribute to the group as a whole. There’s a lesson in there for us as well: it’s not about you. So long as you’re carrying out your duties faithfully, you might never be singled out, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Instead, your efforts contribute to the much broader context of furthering the spread of the Gospel throughout the world, in whatever way God has given to you.
You might never know exactly how you fit into the bigger picture. That’s okay. Keep performing your steps faithfully, carrying out the work God has entrusted specifically to you. Your service is uniquely yours. Just as every member of the marching band has a different drill and a different position on the field, so every member of God’s kingdom is called to a different task. Yours might be similar to someone else’s, but in His wisdom, God has given it to you. He has placed you in your specific position at this exact time in history for a reason. He knows exactly how you fit into the big picture.