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The Forest and the Trees


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I was talking with a banking person the other day about getting some money transferred from my account with them to the bank in the town I live in.  We talked about wiring the money, transferring the money, and other ways.  I just couldn’t find one that seemed to work.  After a while, she said, “Do you have checks for our bank?”  To which I replied, “yes.”   She said just write a check for cash and you will have it and  that money will come out of the account from our bank.  Duh….  Let me say it again, Duh….  The answer to all the questions was right there in my hands.  A checkbook.  I was trying to do everything I could think of to get this money into my account from the other bank that I had an account with and every idea was not going to be as easy as I wanted it to be.  I guess I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

Here is the thinking and history of that statement.  As early as the 1500s, “you can’t see the forest for the trees” was in wide enough use that it was published in collections of proverbs and slang. As anyone who has been in a forest knows, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just looking at the individual trees, rather than considering the forest as a whole.  It’s amazing how we start looking at all the little details and problems and miss the whole point.  The answer to a problem is so many times right there in our hand, but we miss it looking at the little things.  Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 2:1Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

We live in a physical world with physical bodies, but the restrictions of those physical things are not what we base our truth on.  We must live our lives with a “spiritual” way of looking at things.  If we only trust in the things we can see, we miss the truth of trusting in things we cannot see.  Physical vs. Spiritual.  Hebrews 11:1 says it well, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  We tend to look at the things around us and lose sight of the one who is in us, so the first thing to go is the most necessary thing….prayer.  Our belief in Jesus Christ is what also drives our decisions, our path, our strength, our power, everything.  That faith makes the impossible, possible.  In Mark 9:23 Jesus says,  “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Somewhere along the way in our life we are fed a doubting mentality that grows and takes over our faith.  We soon become Doubting Thomas’s.  I would be doubting David,  You might be a doubting Susan, or doubting Brian.  Whatever… you would be a  doubter.  Here is what Jesus said to the original doubter…Thomas.  John 20:2Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”  I haven’t physically seen Jesus, but I believe.  So that should be the forest for me.  My identity as a person is found in that belief.  It is .  The trees would be me worrying about all the little things in life that distract me from my basic belief.  If we stop letting those things distract us, and immerse ourselves in God’s Word we will begin to take on a new way of thinking, known as “The Mind of Christ.”  Then we will see our lives, this world, and those sticky situations in the light they should be seen in.  In light of the glorious grace of our Lord.  

We must be spiritual in our appraisal of everything.  Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians 2 to say this in verses 14 and 15 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.  One of my dear friends is a house appraiser and he goes into a house and estimates the value of that house by what he sees and what he knows.  When we look at things like Jesus does, we suddenly see the value of the better things in life and the lack of value in things that don’t really matter.  A natural, or lost person will not look at life in that way, but those who know Jesus should.   Don’t let yourself be caught looking at the world and it’s problems through a worldly lens, but be found appraising everything in light of what God’s Word teaches.  Then, and only then, will you be able to see the forest that is right in front of you.  The beauty, the splendor, the magnificence of a living faith in a loving God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  What a wonderful forest it is.

The Pilgrimage continues..

David Warren

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