A dear friend of mine and my son's mother-in-law (Joy Davidson) passed along a great story the other day. It goes something like this. A professor came into class one day and said he was giving a surprise quiz. He passed out the papers to all the students and to their surprise there was nothing on the paper but a black dot in the center. The professor requested them to write about what they saw on the paper and gave them some time to complete the task. He collected the papers from the students to look over what they had written and told them that he would not grade these papers. He proceeded to read the papers out loud and all the students without exception wrote about the black dot. The professor pointed out that no one had looked at all the white on the paper which was larger than the little black dot. Of course, the moral of this story is obvious. When we focus on just the black dot (relationship problems, health issues, money troubles), we forget to thank God for all the blessings He gives us daily represented by the white on the paper. I loved this little story because it really is so true.
In Proverbs 23:7, we get a picture of a man who invites someone to eat as a guest but his heart and mind are not in agreement. He begrudges his guest the food he eats. The verses read: "7For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you." Here is a person who is looking at the black dot...what his friend is consuming rather than enjoying true fellowship (looking at the larger picture represented by the white of the paper). How sad!
How many times do we do the same thing? Instead of trusting God with the issues of life that trouble us, we tend to major in the minor things worrying ourselves over things which we often have no control over. Are we not God's creation? Is He no longer sovereign over all life? I think we know the answer to those questions.
Jesus reminds us in the Sermon on the Mount that we are not to worry over what we shall eat, drink or wear. He made it clear that God knows just what we need and is able to supply it if we will put Him first. If we spent more time laying up treasures in heaven (looking at the white part of the paper), we would find a deeper joy in the life we live here and now. There are some simple steps that can help us evaluate if we are placing our time and energy looking at the bigger picture. Here are a few:
1. Remember that no matter how difficult your situation is (that black dot), there is always someone going through something much more challenging. Rejoice in your blessings!
2. Keep in mind that God is sovereign over all the affairs of men. Nothing happens to us that does not first pass through His hands.
3. All things...I repeat....ALL THINGS work together for good to those that love the Lord. This is where we must trust God.
4. Proverbs 17:22: "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." What we choose to focus on, determines our outlook each day.
5. Take your troubles to the Lord in prayer and leave them there. Then, go and enjoy the day the Lord has given to you.
Taking a few minutes each day to ask ourselves these questions will help us to avoid spending our lives focused on the little black dot