When Tim and I purchased our Google Chromecast two years ago, I knew it would be convenient and time-saving. We don’t have cable, so Chromecast makes it possible to “cast” our shows from our devices onto a TV screen with the push of a button. And when I tell my kids it’s time to turn their show off and they’re too entranced to hear me, I can just grab my phone and turn it off for them 😉

But what I didn’t expect was that this little device would open my eyes to a whole new world. When there isn’t a show playing, Chromecast runs a slideshow of “Featured Photos”. Some of these photos are natural landmarks or architecture and some are works of art from galleries, but a large portion of these photos are satellite images of sections of our planet zoomed out to display fascinating patterns and colors!

For example, there are photos of:

The Grand Canyon

The Betsiboka Estuary in Madagascar

And the winding rivers of the Amazon Rainforest

I leave this slideshow running as often as possible because these images have helped me see the world – and my life – in a whole new way.

As a “glass-half-empty” kind of person, I find it hard to be consistently thankful. I have eyes that tend to turn toward the discomfort or trial in front of me, and a mouth that oozes my complaints about those things. I know if I could find a way to be more thankful, I would start seeing more of the “glass-half-full” and maybe even more of what God is doing in my life!

There’s a lot of talk in the Christian community right now about being “present”. The idea is that rather than focusing on our to-do lists, goals and accomplishments, or social media feeds, we would do well to stop, be in the moment, and focus on the here and now.

That’s all well and good, but I think sometimes my problem is that I’m being too present. Sometimes I’m so entrenched in the here and now that I can’t see anything else but the here and now. Hectic schedules, relationship troubles, a house that seems to breed clutter, cranky kids (and parents!) – they’re in my face and therefore on my mind all the time.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve been challenged to push pause, stop being present, and zoom out.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:1-3

I remember reading Psalm 136 during “responsive reading” time at church when I was growing up. I remember it because with the congregation repeating the same line throughout, I didn’t have to pay attention 😉

God gave His people songs like this for a reason. Yes, the repeated line made it easy for everyone in the congregation of worshipers to participate, but more important was the repetition of a declaration of the most important thing they knew to be true – that God’s chosen, purposeful, “covenant loyalty” was to them, and that He was “forever” acting in lovingkindness and goodness toward them.*

The history of God’s people up to this point was not straight roads and easy paths – their story was filled with trials and troubles. But this Psalm proclaimed what God, in His forever-enduring love, had done for them. Verse after verse describes His actions in rescuing them from Egypt (verses 10-15), leading them through the wilderness (verse 16), and fighting battles for them (verses 17-22). It reminds them of His creation (verses 4-9) and His constant provision for their needs (verses 23-25).

So as the people of Israel sang this song together, they were zooming out and looking at their whole story. No matter what trial or trouble they were facing in the here and now, they pushed pause and intentionally looked at the big picture. Then they gave thanks by declaring God’s goodness toward them in every detail of it.

When you’re in a trying time or just consumed with the everyday “stuff” of life, it’s easy to get stuck in the details. But hitting the pause button and zooming out helps you see a big picture view of where you’ve been and how faithful God has been – even in the hard stuff. Because of Christ and your choice to receive Him into your life, you are now the recipient that “covenant loyalty” – meaning God’s lovingkindness and goodness are in every pixel of your picture. And when we intentionally look at our zoomed-out pictures, we can point to any and every moment and say “That was His love”.

I think if we designed it ourselves, we would choose a smooth-sailing kind of life – calm seas with no waves to rock the boat! But if we zoomed out, there would really be nothing to see:

Because it’s in the waves – it’s in those moments we feel like we’re being tossed and thrown about that we see the power and beauty of His love:

If it was up to us, we would keep our lives in “in-control” predictable boxes and rows, like Nebraska:

But if we did, we would miss out on the striking patterns and colors of His unpredictable work in our lives:

If we had the choice, we would walk on never-ending soft, straight, sandy beaches:

But those rocky, jagged twists and turns that sometimes feel like pain are His carefully sculpted artwork:

When you’re lost in a maze of fields, being rocked by waves, or struggling to maneuver along a rocky coast, it’s hard to be thankful! But zooming out by looking back over our whole lives and declaring that “His love endures forever” can bring a welcome change in perspective.

“Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:26

*http://biblehub.com/interlinear/psalms/136-1.htm and http://biblehub.com/hebrew/2617.htm

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