I saw a picture of myself the other day. Not a physical photograph, but a picture in my head. I was standing along the edge of a prison yard, right up next to the fence. I had my eyes focused on a group of people on the other side. They were playing basketball. I wished I could play. They looked like they were having so much fun! But I had no way of getting through or over or under the fence between us. I was stuck, just watching, while they had all the fun. I looked down at my plain clothes and felt jealous of their colorful uniforms. I wanted to be part of a team and get to wear a bright outfit like that! Then one of the officials blew his whistle and the game was over. All the players lined up and headed inside. I remained, staring at the empty court, wondering what I could do to get past that fence.
The view changed then, as I saw myself from the outside. I could see myself, standing there outside the fence looking toward the prison. But I could also see behind me, acres of grassy fields and rolling hills. If I’d but turned around, I could have seen that I was the one who was free, yet there I was, eyes trained on the prison yard, feeling jealous of the prisoners who were allowed to play ball during their single hour of exercise for the day.
“I, the Lord, made you, and I will not forget you. I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to Me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” (Isaiah 44:21b-22, NLT)
How many times have I felt on the outside looking in, hurt that I’m not part of that crowd? Wishing I had what they have, desiring to do the things I see them doing?
Too often, I stand facing the wrong direction, seeing the life I think I want, without realizing what I’d have to give up in order to get it. I miss out on what I already have because I don’t see it in the places I choose to look.
Forgive me for looking away from You to find what I think I want. Help me to understand that You already know what is best for me and I can trust You to give it to me just at the right time. When I look at other people, remind me that I don’t see everything, I can’t understand the whole picture. Only You do. And You are working through all the circumstances, in everything I see and experience everyday. And You know what You are doing.