Author Ruth Smith Meyer

Ruth Smith Meyer Inspirational writer, speaker

Thinking out Loud on my Blog

Seeing the Whole Picture

Posted by ruthsmithmeyer-com on August 30, 2010 at 7:18 PM

Several years ago, I accompanied a group of women going on a tour of quilting places. We saw many beautiful quilts and came away with countless ideas for projects of our own. I also came away with the promise of receiving monthly, a letter giving me six progressive sets of instructions for a Mystery Quilt. I was excited by the idea.

The first letter arrived a few weeks later with instructions to buy so many yards of a dark solid fabric, so many yards of dark printed fabrics, light tone on tone and  light printed fabric. When I went shopping for those fabrics I was confronted by the first clue of how I was going to react. How was I going to choose good colours and contrast if I didn’t know the pattern of the quilt? I agonized over my choice. Would I regret the colours I finally chose? Which fabrics were going to be the main pattern and which the background? Already I was filled with apprehension.

The next letter contained instructions to cut triangles of one of the colours, some rectangles of the same and some from a different one. I dreaded cutting into good, new fabric without knowing what the finished product was going to be, but I forced myself to do it.

The next letter was hard to even open. My feelings were those of unease, bordering on anxiety. More cutting of the different fabrics was required. It felt as though I was committed to the unknown and it didn’t feel good.

When the next letter advised me to begin sewing them together, I balked. That was too much. Now even though I used the excuse that I was just too busy to continue with it, the truth was I just couldn’t continue without knowing what I was doing. Although I felt more than a little disgusted at my inability to go on step-by-step, I wanted the whole picture first! As each subsequent letter arrived, I guiltily stowed it, unopened, in the box which held all the supplies for the Mystery Quilt.

Finally, the sixth missive arrived and I opened it first. There was the picture of the finished product! All of a sudden my schedule was free enough to get my sewing machine buzzing. It wasn’t long until I had my quilt done. It was beautiful!

Beautiful as it was, the experience continued to haunt me. Then one day, my teacher-daughter was telling me how the children in her class worked differently. Some needed to be given small, progressive steps to complete a task. Telling them all the steps to a project overwhelmed them and made them freeze up, unable to begin.

Others, she said, were just the opposite. Given only one instruction at a time made no sense to them. They had to have all the instructions and an idea of what the finished project was to look like before they could begin. “It is just the way they are made, the difference in how each child functions!” she said.

Bo-i-i-ing! It was like a “slap up-side the head” as my son would have said. The light went on. I am the kind of person who wants to see the whole picture. That bit of insight gave me a bigger understanding of how I operate in life.

Having that picture set me to thinking about other parts of my life. How does it affect the way I communicate with others? What difference does it make in the tasks with which I am presented in various parts of my life? How does that trait influence my walk with my Lord and Saviour?

Again, those thoughts came back to me repeatedly and I struggled with feeling inadequate and unfaithful until one day I was reading the story of the disciple Thomas. His reaction when the other followers of Christ told him that Jesus had appeared to them has dubbed him doubting-Thomas ever since. In this reading I suddenly saw another side. Maybe Thomas was just withholding his opinion because he needed the whole picture. Less didn’t make sense. He was waiting to get the last few pieces of the jig-saw puzzle before he could see the end result. I began to have a lot of empathy for him.

Now how should the Thomas in me reconcile my personality-need-for- the- whole-picture and my need to follow Christ with my whole heart and mind? Can I trust him with the unseen parts of the picture, or do I withhold my belief and allegiance until I can see more?

I struggled several days with those ideas and my dilemma. God made me the way I am. Is he now asking me to operate differently? Was the way he made me not as good as those who want only one step at a time?

Then one morning I read Jesus’ conversation with the disciples in John “I am the way, the truth and the life,” he told them--another light-bulb moment! That IS the whole picture! If I keep my eyes on Jesus, then even if I can’t see beyond the bend of the road, I still have the whole picture, because Jesus is the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE. What could be more complete?

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Reply Fay Rowe
8:24 PM on August 30, 2010 
I love this! It really does help if we see who Jesus is, and all he says he is to us, as the big picture! Thanks for posting!
Reply Jim Fox
7:27 PM on September 2, 2010 
Hey Ruth:
I can relate with the need to know. I also suffer from that problem.
Doubting Thomas; What about the rest of the disciples? How did they react when Mary came and told them she had seen Jesus, alive.