The Bigger Picture
T. Suzanne Eller

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains." James 5:7 (NIV)

I overheard a conversation while in an airport. I wanted to jump into the dialogue, but I had a plane to catch and more importantly, I would have to admit that I was eavesdropping, so I moved on. "He's just in it for the money," the man said while we waited in line at security. He named the author of a best-selling Christian book. "It's simplistic. Over-hyped. I can't believe it's sold so many copies." This conversation made me think about my daughter's best friend, Emily.

When I first met Emily she was a new believer. Occasionally our pastor would ask families to pray together. On those Sundays we opened our arms and Emily joined us. But as much as she loved the Ellers, it wasn't her family.

Her parents didn't understand her faith. Her older brother mocked her faith.

Emily went on mission trips. She was involved in youth group. She left for college and organized campus ministries, and even traveled to Africa to minister to children with AIDS. The longing for her family to love Jesus intensified, but from the outside looking in it appeared that her prayers were hitting the ceiling.

What Emily didn't know is that her brother was watching closely. His little sister's faith had grown and now she was a woman of faith.

One day he bought a book and read it straight through the night. Somewhere between dark and dawn Emily's Savior became his. In the next few months he led his fiancé to Christ. He shared his faith with his parents, and now that both of their children's lives had been changed, they too became believers.

That was four years ago. Recently Emily came home to visit her family, and they all came to church. I couldn't help but look back with excitement when I heard these words, "Could families gather together and pray?" Emily walked down the aisle. Her family wrapped her in their arms. It was a beautiful sight.

And the book that the man in the airport said was simplistic and overhyped? That was the very book that Emily's brother read that changed his life. It was an answer to a faithful girl's prayers. What does this have to do with you and me? As a writer, every day I'm in my home-office wearing jeans and a T-shirt writing on a laptop, hoping that someone might actually hear the message. But I can't see the bigger picture. I don't know if the words are making a difference or not. All I know is that God called me to communicate a message and to be faithful to that call.

Maybe there are days that you struggle, too. Maybe all you hear are the negative comments like those of the man in the airport. But does that mean that nothing good is happening? Absolutely not!

When I think of Emily, I am encouraged to place my ministry in God's hands and allow Him to do the miracles while I type one word at a time.

Will you trust Him to do miracles with your faith and your work as well?

Dear Father, I don't always see the bigger picture, but You do. Today I place my discouragement and comments of others in Your hands. Thank You for wisdom, encouragement, and renewed joy as I trust You with the bigger picture. Amen.

Related Resources:
The Woman I’m Becoming: Embrace the Chase for Destiny, Faith, and Identity by T. Suzanne Eller

Has God called you to speak or write for Him? Find wisdom and encouragement in The Reason We Speak and For the Write Reason, Gen. Ed. Marybeth Whalen

Visit Suzie’s blog where she interviews Emily and shares a giveaway of one of her books. Also, check out her other resources here!

Application Steps:
What is one act that someone did for you that changed your life?

Encourage them today by writing them a note or e-mail thanking them.

When people encounter Jesus, no matter how they find Him, it changes their lives. Stay faithful as you spread the Word.

Power Verses:
Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 2:13, "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers." (ESV)

© 2009 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Wendy H said...


Don't think for a moment that your words are falling on deaf ears. Your message was just what I needed to hear in the midst of my wondering what impact I am having with the high school students I work with. Your words made a difference to me and I do believe that the bigger picture will unfold for me as well. I know God is good and it will be revealed.


Blogger Eagles Wings said...

Thanks so much...we may never know this side of heaven sometimes what the impact will be- awesome testimony thanks for sharing today!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to tell you that your words have helped me through some hard times. I start my mornings by reading this blog.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't think your words and thoughtful effort don't make a difference. I check your blog every morning.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After years of running from God & a lot of prayer from Mom. She gave me The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I read it & felt God was speaking directly to me. God moved me to join a church & serve him with all my heart. I fall short of the grace of God every day, but his grace will sustain. That was 6 years ago. I thank God for the many authors out there that follow the holy spirit & lead others to Christ. Your devotions have touched my heart.

Blogger under the wing said...

Thank you for being faithful to trust in God's faithfulness and for your obedience. His ways are mysterious and work together for the good of those who love Him. Today's devotional is just what my heart needed to hear today as a mom. Many blessings to you.

Anonymous Deb Ingino said...

Our words, both spoken and written, are truly like seeds that are planted and we never know when they will be harvested and by whom.

I really like the seeds you plant :)

Blogger Becca said...

The prayer at the end of your blog was very timely for me. I copied it into my journal. Thank you.

Blogger Diane Markins said...

A friend sent your blog post to me today and it spoke directly to my heart. Writing is such a journey of isolation; we put what God gives us "out there" with hope and faith it will touch lives. Sometimes the only feedback we get is the wind blowing or the crickets chirping. I'm just finishing the proposal for a women's devotional book and your reminder of doing it out of obedience, regardless of the outcome, was deeply encouraging. Your message was engaging and compelling in it's simplicity. Thank You, Sister!

Thank you so much for this timely post. Sometimes, especially with blogging and writing my first book, the enemy tries to whisper in my ear "nobody needs to hear what you have to say", "that has been said before", etc.

You helped me remember that what I am responsible for is not the outcome but my obedience to what God is calling me to do. Thank you for that!

Anonymous Suzanne Eller said...

Thanks, ladies, for opening your heart and sharing such insight and honesty. Isn't it cool that we can come together and encourage each other?

I hope you'll go to my website where we take this discussion deeper with an interview with Emily, and I'm also offering a giveaway!

Your comments are a gentle knock on my heart today, reminding me why I love what I do.

Anonymous Whitney Morton said...

Just what we need - just when we need it... that's what this was and thankfully that's Who our Savior is - at just the right time... He is!

Blogger GEARS said...

Oh, God bless you for saying what I needed to hear today. I have just had a biopsy of a lump in my arm, then contracted a staph infection in the incision and required surgery for that. Because of the second surgery, they have found breast cancer cells, and the surgeon callous comment was that chemo would be used to treat it but it was a death sentence, even though they can't find the original cancer. I am a mom to three kids under 10. I need to be the mom. I let this doctor get me down. My bigger picture is that my God is a mighty God who created everything. This problem in my arm, and maybe my body, God can fix it, or use it to suit his greater purpose. He is in control, I don't need to waste my energies worrying, I can refocus on getting stronger and getting back to being the mommy.

Anonymous Linda said...

I will be praying for you Suzette!!!
Yes, be patient. God has his ways of working things out! My aunt is surviving cancer of the brain, lung, and lymph nodes. God is working wonders in her! Her brain cancer is gone, and there is just a "whisp" of cancer in her lungs.
She is a Christian and has people all over the U.S. praying for her.
God is The Great Physician and He can do ANYTHING! We must focus on His word, not on what mere mortals think they know.
I wanted you to know that God is with you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much I needed to hear this message! I have not seen my eldest son in 4 1/2 years, his father refuses to let me and the courts are a joke. I have the orders by the judge to see him but they are not followed through with. I am so very discouraged and sad. I too do not see the bigger picture. I am mad at God but at the same time I know He has our best intrest and He cares for me and my son. Some day I will be able to look at this and at that time with my now 17 year old son in my arms I will be able to Praise the Father who created us and who brought us through the impossible.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What timing!
Just today we met with some friends and gave them 2 books about faith and Jesus. My friends shared some of their "issues" with religion, but unfortunately we were unable to have a discussion about their feelings. Your message is encouraging. I wonder if my words made a difference as well. Please pray that this family opens their hearts and minds to the Lord.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter and I are going through EXACTLY this scenario. We have tried other verses, but not putting it personally like your suggestion, and not writing it on a card. I will try that. But, there are larger applications. I am the one struggling with fear right now. If I follow my heart to stay at home and write, finish these books and articles I've started, and make our home life peaceful, then, I will no longer work for the school system. Then, I risk not getting a transfer to a different school district approved which I fear will devastate my daughter. I know that if I put God's will first, all these things will fall into line and for our best, but convincing my family is not as easy. So, this applies to me as well. And Suzette I am praying for you this moment. Lorraine

Anonymous Kathy said...

Last night a young military man and his wife were here in our home visiting our son and his girl-friend. I only had a little while to talk with them, but they are facing a big step in their marriage and lives. He is being sent to Afghanastan in a few weeks. I shared with them the importance of having God as the third member of their marriage and for him to remember to take his Bible when he goes, God will be with him anywhere he goes. When my son came home later, he had an emblem with the Lord's Prayer on it that Dale had given to him. "I don't understand why he did that, Mom. He wants me to keep it 'til he gets back." I told him of my conversation with them. "How do you alway get so involved with someone in just a few minutes?", he asked. I tried to explain that it was not me, but God speaking thru me. I am not saying this to brag at all, I feel blessed as I am sure all God's servants feel. We just need to let Him work.

Anonymous Terri said...

Wow! I have recently started a blog because I feel this call to allow Father to use any and all aspects of my life to reach out to His people. Today I have been questioning it? Will it really make a difference? It doesn't seem to be getting much traffic? Tonight I read a devotional that a friend emailed me and it said to me,
"hoping that someone might actually hear the message. But I can't see the bigger picture. I don't know if the words are making a difference or not. All I know is that God called me to communicate a message and to be faithful to that call."
Thank you for that! I will continue to be faithful to Him. Because one thing I know is that if it makes a difference for ONE person only then that is enough....
Blessings to you!

Blogger Marilyn Fox said...

This was great encouragement to me, too. It is such a good reminder that we must not listen to people like that man who said the book was too simplistic. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved...." says Acts 16:31 Believe or not, how simple is that? It is not complicated. This helped me so much today because I have been so sad because of the behavior of some of those who are close to me. But then God showed me through this that He sees the bigger picture. He is working and I must trust Him. Thank you for writing this and being such a comfort.

Anonymous Suzanne Eller said...

Suzette, I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but it doesn't have a place for comments and there was no follow up email for you. I am praying for you as I type, and will throughout this day. Thank you for such an honest post. I pray that God shines through this dark period.

Blogger GEARS said...

thank you for your prayers, ladies. i am seeing the oncologist tomorrow morning for the first time. suzanne, went to your blog but haven't figured it out yet. hope to meet my sisters there!

Blogger Virginia Smith said...

That was such a "word in season" for me. Thank you so much!

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