Summary: The big picture for oour lives is more likely to unfold than unfurl.

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Title: When You Cannot See the Big Picture

Text: Genesis 12:1-9

The Big Picture: God’s will for our lives is more likely to unfold than unfurl.


We host perhaps the toughest ultra marathon right here in Colorado… it is called the Hardrock Hundred. It begins in Silverton with runners making a 100 miles cross-country trek. This year on July 11-13, it will be a clockwise circuit through Ophir, Telluride, Ouray, Sherman, Lake City, and back to Silverton.

A year ago, 97 of 134 runners completed the race. The winner of that race was Scott Jurek from Seattle, Washington, finishing in 26 hours, 8 minutes and 34 seconds. Let’s take a moment to see how a person finishes a 100-mile run. (You will notice that the announcer mistakenly says he finished in 26 minutes… that would be an incredibly fast pace of something over 200 mph.)

Transition: Here it is…

Project YouTube.Com clip: 2007 Hardrock Hundred Ultra Marathon Finish

As you could see, Scott Jurek had clearly run a grueling race. The Christian life is sometimes likened to a race.

Perhaps the most well known allusion is found in Hebrews where the writer says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses, let us strip off every weight that slows us down… and let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Another, is found in Paul’s writing where he said, “But I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” Philippians 3:13-14

When he approached his death, Paul summarized his life like this: “As for me, my life has already been poured out like an offering to God. The time for my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” II Timothy 4:6-7

I particularly liked the thought from the Hebrews text inferring that our lives are likened to a race that God has set before us. I like the thought that there is a beginning, followed by a circuitous course that lasts something more than 26 hours, 8 minutes, and 34 seconds, and ends with a fulfilling and rewarding finish.

In our story today he lays out something of an ultra, ultra, ultra, ultra, ultra marathon for Abram which would stretch over 500 miles and 100 years. His race, which began in Genesis 12, ended in Genesis 25. “Abram lived for 175 years, and died at a ripe old age.” Genesis 25:7

When Abram began his 500 mile, 100 year journey, he knew his point of departure and generally where he would arrive, but the in between and even largely the destination were unknowns. In fact, even at the end of his life there was something of the yet unknown.

God sees a big picture… a bigger picture than any one individual’s picture.

1. God’s picture is a bigger picture than a person’s picture. God’s picture begins before us and continues beyond us.

The story of Abram, AKA Abraham and the vision of Canaan did not begin with Abram.

It began with his father. “This is the story of Terah’s family. Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and his grandson Lot and left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But they stopped instead at the village of Haran and settled there. Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran.” Genesis 11:27-32

This is a fairly typical immigrant story… someone starts out for a final destination but somewhere alone the way they say, “You know, this is a pretty good place. Why don’t we just settle down here?”

In the ministry and especially when you live some distance from your family, you learn that your vacation time is spent traveling to see relatives. So you make the most of the trip by seeing some of the sights along the way. Once, during my “ghost town” period, while enroute to see family, we visited Jerome, Arizona. Jerome is between Prescott and Flagstaff and is also a mile-high city. It was an historic copper mining town and at its hay day was known as the “wickedest town in the west.” Today it is promoted as “Americas Most Vertical City” and “Largest Ghost Town.”

We visited the mine and while touring the town, stepped into something of a storefront pottery shop. There at the potter’s wheel was a genuine relic from the 60’s… a hippie. When I asked him about how he landed in Jerome he said, “Well, I was on my way to San Francisco when I stopped here in Jerome, and I just never left.” Terah and his family were on their way to Canaan when they stopped in Haran…and they just never left.

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