Devotion: See the bigger picture
Recently, a photographer asked if they could use City Church for a couple of days to do some photo shoots for children and families in the community. We agreed and allowed them to operate out of our facility. When the day arrived for the photography sessions, staff members and volunteers entered the building to get things all set up. They moved furniture and brought several props, as well as backdrops inside.
On one of the days, sometime in late afternoon, I entered the building as a photo shoot was in session. That’s when I saw adorable children, a proud mom and dad—all color-coordinated—posing.
“Say cheese!” the photographer called out as they plastered on their best smiles.
In between camera flashes, the posing coach told the happy clan exactly what to do. I was pleased that everything was going smoothly and took notice of how the backdrop changed the whole atmosphere of the building. The selected background complemented the family’s clothing and gave our church location an entirely different look, and feel. Though the lovely people in the photo were the focal point, the picture would not have been nearly as perfect without a good backdrop.
Every skilled photographer knows that choosing—or even building—the right set, and picking an ideal backdrop when necessary, is crucial to snapping a great photograph.
As I thought of this, I thought of Jesus. I know He was a carpenter and not a photographer, but the Savior sure could create a vivid picture. Jesus knew how to choose the appropriate setting as a fitting backdrop to bring His lessons and stories to life. This often helped those He ministered to, to see the bigger picture.
One such instance is recorded in John 4. One afternoon, Jesus was tired from traveling. So He sat down on Jacob’s well to rest His exhausted body. This is the first time we see Jacob’s well referenced in the Bible. As a matter of fact, it is only mentioned in John’s gospel. That’s why scholars don’t know very much about it. Its value and significance to us, then, is tied exclusively to how Christ uses the well to accomplish His purposes.
While He was at the well in Sychar—a town located in Samaria— Jesus asked a Samaritan woman to give Him a drink. She was resistant to the idea because Jews didn’t deal with Samaritans who, after the Assyrians captured Samaria in 2 Kings 17-18, became tainted by their foreign captors. They intermarried, produced children, got mixed up in ancient false religions and were considered impure by other Jews after returning to their homeland. Jesus, however, who came to save outcasts, didn’t care about any of that. He loved her.
If you skip down to verse 10, you’ll see that Jesus didn’t come right out and say He was the Messiah. Initially, He hinted around being someone important that could offer this woman what was called “living water.”
The Samaritan woman’s rebuttal brings into focus the value of using the well as a backdrop. She said in verse 12, “Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
From her response, it is clear that this woman revered Jacob—known as Israel. In her mind, for someone to be greater than Israel, and provide water that was superior to what came from Jacob’s well, would be quite impressive!
Well, Jesus already knew her manner of thinking. He used the well to lead her deeper into a conversation about faith and salvation. God is so intentional, isn’t He? Jesus told her all about her life and did something He had not done with anyone else: He revealed Himself as the Messiah. She came to faith that day and caused many others to believe as well.
From the first interaction, Jesus knew what He was doing. He foreknew the end result of His unconventional methods of engagement. All along, He was after the Samaritan woman’s soul. It never was about the well. The well was just a tool—just as God is using your issue, situation, struggle, and unique challenge as a tool to get you where He wants you to be.
Friend, He’s leading you. The Lord is a brilliant strategist. He does things intentionally. Nothing is by accident—not even your struggle. It’s just a backdrop for a greater blessing. It’s time for you to focus on God and see the bigger picture.
Whatever your “backdrop” looks like—even if it’s ugly or bad—God wants to use it for His glory. The sickness is just a backdrop for God to reveal Himself as a healer. Lack is a backdrop for God to prove He’s a provider. The hindrance is a backdrop for God to show you He’s a way-maker. Adversity is a backdrop to manifest God as a refuge in trouble. Chaos is a backdrop for God to make you see that He is your peace in confusion.
God is using this circumstance, as He used Jacob’s well, to accomplish a work in you. See the bigger picture; God is up to something great. He’s going to do more than you imagined. Some good things you didn’t expect are on the way. Let Him open your eyes!
Today, I’m stirring a prayer into your cup of inspiration, which is found in Psalm 119:18 ISV, and it says, “Open my eyes so that I will observe amazing things from your instruction.”
As you drink down the contents of your cup, I believe God is giving you some insight, fresh vision, and greater understanding of His awesome plans for you. He’s removing the scales from your eyes so you can see the bigger picture. Everything you’re presently facing is a setup for God to bless you, mature you, and use you as an effective witness for the Kingdom.
Open your eyes. See that He’s doing great things!
Now let’s pray.
God, thank You for reminding me that You have a much greater plan that goes far beyond what I currently see. I believe there are bigger and better things in store for me, even though it may not look like it today. I trust You in all things, and I anticipate breakthrough. In Jesus’ name, Amen.