Thursday, October 15, 2009

The View

I've been looking at thousands upon thousands of rental homes for our family's vacation next summer, and examining their location on the map for proximity to the ocean... and all those google map images, zooming in as close as possible to measure how many feet the walk to the beach is, and zooming out to see where in the big picture each house is must have crossed the barrier into my subconscious mind.

In that stage between wakefulness and sleep, when you're still conscious enough to think but your thoughts blur and don't quite make sense, I had this thought.

When I'm examining google maps, the middle ground on the zoom button doesn't do me a whole lot of good.

I zoom way in to find out what I need to know specifically about the house in question and its distance from the beach access. And I zoom way out to see where in the grand scheme of things this house is located. But the middle? It doesn't tell me anything much.

And somehow, in that dreamy stage before sleep, I got to thinking about how this is sort of like our view as humans, and God's view, of our lives. We get the way zoomed in view of our life -- we see it up close and personal, in the here and now, what today looks like. God gets the way zoomed out view of our life -- he sees today, and our life as a whole, in the grand scheme of things -- the plan for the universe. So we both have very different views of the exact same thing (except of course that He knows the zoomed in view as well since He's omniscient...).

But there's a third view -- the middle ground. From this view, you can see the bigger picture -- in a way. It's not a big enough picture to give you any true knowledge about the location's place in the universe. And it's not a small enough picture to give you any intimate knowledge about the details in the here and now. Basically, your view is almost useless.

And I thought that maybe -- just maybe -- that is representative of others' view of our life. They see parts of it, and they see it from a bigger viewpoint than we ourselves do because they are outside of our personal frame of reference. But they don't see the BIG picture either. They see just about enough to make them feel like they have the authority to make judgments, yet not enough to truly have any authority to do so.

Don't we do this all the time? We judge people by what we see and think of as a bigger picture? Someone shares their thoughts on a certain subject, or a particular happening in their lives, and we think we know better than they do what's really going on.

I guess we're all going to have our opinions on other people's decisions and actions, but before we act on those opinions (by stating them to the person or to others, or by treating someone differently because of our opinions on what's going on), maybe we ought to remind ourselves that we have neither the big picture nor the detailed one. Maybe -- just maybe -- we don't know it all. Maybe we know just enough to get us into trouble.

Or maybe I've just been looking at too many maps.

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