Can’t see the forest for the trees?

1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)

 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

The Lord reminds me of this sometimes, the fact I will never see as much as I want here on this Earth, and never as much as He does. And that through it all, He knows exactly what is in my head, and in my heart.

Like the old saying about the forest and trees implies, we get lost amid the trees and fail to see the forest. I have discovered it can be the same when you get so ingrained in study, looking at this detail and then that detail, and following this trail, and suddenly as you are discovering the wonders of the truth set out in the Bible, you can too easily get distracted with details and not see the whole picture.

We are instructed to seek Him, to study, to be faithful to live those things we learn so when we are tested, we stand strong through it, approved as a workman not ashamed as we rightly divide the word of truth. (2Tim 2:15)

And if we are careless, that study can turn into something where the focus is on the study and not on why we are studying.

The Lord would never have given us so much to study, apply, and share, if that wasn’t his plan. But it is very possible to spend more time on studying than applying what is studied. For a couple of weeks I was doing two free courses, doing regular day to day life chores, and writing. I gave myself two days off over the holiday weekend, listened to an audio book, did online church, cleaned house, and realized that not only was my brain tired, but my spirit was beginning to question the need for all of that study.

I’d lost clear sight of the simplest of instructions the Lord has given us:

Mark 12:30-31 (ESV) And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What God made clear to me was that above all else my acknowledgement of love for Him and the people he puts in my path is priority. Then, the second commandment to make disciples, something that for years I’ve told myself I was preparing for, was something to continue but not let the focus be on the preparation, but on the reason, the goal, for the preparation.

I felt tired because my heart, my mind, was so focused on doing, and not being. A hard lesson learned years ago, but obviously one that will have to continue to be learned when the focus gets on the trees and not the forest.

The doing is necessary, but until I dedicate time to being a child of God first, the doing will both wear me down, and not produce the fruit I need to produce.

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