I don’t spend much time in wide, open spaces. Cambridge is a very full, busy place – full of universities and students; bustling coffee shops; high streets surrounded by tall buildings. In my standard day, I go from home, to the office, and back again – I might spend some time in the town centre, or in other people’s houses, or in a café; but it’s very rare that I’m not around people and things.
First, God made light. And then he made the separation between land and sea – expanse. I find it really hard to picture the earth at this point – just a wide, open space. Because we live surrounded by things, and people, and places, it’s hard for us to imagine a life without them. When I live in a contained space, my ideas, thoughts and visions fit into that space. I’ll only see as far as my eyes see – which is normally just in front of me. Everything becomes small to fit into my world.
But every now and then, I get out into a wide, open place, and it reminds me how big God’s creation is. It reminds me that there is a bigger picture, and I begin to understand things that are beyond my own small world.
We all feel a bit overwhelmed at times. We’re trying to balance workload, studying, spending time at home, spending time with friends, prioritising our health, eating right, getting enough sleep. And during those times, when life gets really crazy, we make the mistakes. We prioritise the wrong things. We don’t get things done like we should. We curl up for a couple of hours and watch Netflix under the duvet rather than reply to that friend that is feeling neglected.
And then we look at Instagram, and Facebook, and Youtube, and we see the people who seem to be living their life so perfectly. “I bet they don’t struggle with the things that I do,” we think. Always looking great, always smiling, always having a great time. To put their life on display like that, they must be so confident, so happy with themselves, right?
Sure, some of the time. I’m sure they feel great about that snapshot of their life that they’ve put out for the world to see; they have no issue with the 15 minutes of their day that is on display. But here’s the thing:
Do not compare your Behind the Scenes, to someone else’s Best Bits.
We all use social media to show ourselves in the best light. Happy selfies with our friends, views from the mountaintops, the funniest moments of our days. What we don’t all put on is the low parts, the bits that we struggle with, the moments of normality in our lives. So if we’re looking at social media and comparing our regular lives to someone else’s highlights, we’re always going to feel small.
In my life, I’ve had moments of wondering if what I do really matters. Life gets crazy, things happen, and I lose sight of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Things can feel a bit unknown, and because of that, the world feels a bit unsafe and insecure.
These are the moments when I need to return to the bigger picture: the story that I am created, that God knows me, and that I’m a part of this big world that He made. I’m reminded that I’m not here by accident; I’m not just doing things for the point of it; I’m living out a plan and a purpose that has been designed for me from the moment that God created the world.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you – I have called you by name, you are mine” Isaiah 43:1
The invitation that God gives us – to call on him, and to live in relationship with him – will lead to a life that is so much bigger than you could possibly imagine. But as soon as we shrink God down to fit our world, as soon as God becomes controllable, we’ve lost the idea of who God is.
So here’s what I’ve decided:
Noting Else Really Matters
I am His, and He is mine. God created me, put me here, and I’m living my life in relationship with Him. Everything else, all the other stress that I pile on to myself – I don’t need it. We don’t need to be burdened, because we have a saviour who died so that those burdens can be lifted off of us. Anything we’re still carrying is unnecessary weight.
I think we should take Tay’s advice, and Shake It Off.
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”