The View at 30,000 Feet

Wallace G. Smith
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The business of living life is full of many, many details. There are project reports to write, looming deadlines to meet, and a coffee spill on your desk that demands your attention. There are school forms to fill out and permission slips to sign while finishing your children's lunches as you see their school bus pull around the corner. Our eyeglass prescriptions need to be updated, our garbage needs to be taken out, and our dog needs to be taken to the vet. Details, details, details.

But sometimes we need to step back and free ourselves from the tyranny of details to look at things from a different level.

As I type this, I am riding in a plane from Charlotte, North Carolina to Dallas, Texas, and the pilot is currently taking us over Little Rock, Arkansas. Having been there before, I know the details I am not seeing from my vantage point: street lights, restaurants, cars, people, houses, and busy people going to and fro, each with his or her own task to do or accomplish and purpose to carry out.

Yet from here—30,000 feet above all of that—I see so much more than those very busy people do. The details are not currently visible to me, as they would be to someone on the corner of South Arch Street and West Capitol Avenue. I don't see the people crossing the street, or the fire engine rushing to a scene of an accident. But I do see a much broader picture, with features not visible to my friend on the corner. I clearly see the river running through town—800 yards away from him and hidden behind many buildings. I see the larger layout of the highways, the patchwork of land and colors that surround the area. Each point of view, whether at 30,000 feet above the city or standing on the corner of town, has its benefits, and each provides a needed perspective.

This airborne meditation reminded me of a scripture: "Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established" (Proverbs 4:26). While walking a path, it is natural to pay attention to the details around us—step over that log, duck under that branch, etc. But it also makes sense to step back on occasion to get a larger picture: Where is this path leading? Is that where I want to go? If so, is it the best way to get there? Will the destination be worth the journey that this path involves?

Like stepping back to consider the path one is walking, or like considering the lay of the land from a higher vantage point, we must consider the bigger picture at times. Children produce a lot of "busy-ness" in our lives, but what are we truly trying to accomplish with our children in the long run? If we keep on the path we have been on for the past few weeks, months, or years, where are we going to find ourselves? Marriage, too, often demands a daily focus on details, but what would we notice staring out a plane window that we wouldn't notice on the ground? Where is our marriage heading? What do I see ahead for us in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? What do I want to see in my marriage in the years ahead?

Life is full of details, and there's nothing wrong with that. But every once in a while we need to step back and consider the bigger picture. We need to occasionally climb above the hustle and bustle that surrounds us daily and get the view from 30,000 feet.

If you are pondering the path of your feet, we have some booklets that might be helpful: God's Plan for Happy Marriage and Successful Parenting: God's Way. Both can be ordered from our website and are free of charge.

  Originally Published: 29th November 2008