The Magic of the Big Picture

There are days when it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Days when you wonder “What on earth am I doing here? Why are my life and circumstances so difficult? When will the struggle and hard work end?”

Statue of David

Statue of David

Having the big picture in your mind helps keep you going.

Take Michelangelo for example.

In 1507, he was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was an honor to be asked I’m sure but he didn’t just jump into the project without stepping back first. He labored for months over hundreds of sketches, analyzing multitudes of colors and themes before ever dipping his brush into the paint. Finally, he put up his scaffolding and started the work in 1508. The painstaking work of painting while lying on his back was finally completed on the Chapel in 1512.

One day, as the story goes, Michelangelo was painting in an obscure corner of the Chapel when his frustration boiled over. He was so frustrated he painted over his work and started over. One of the workers in the Chapel said to Michelangelo when he saw what he had done, “Why worry over something nobody will ever see?” The great Michelangelo said, “I will know.”

Michelangelo had the big picture in mind. The big picture inspired him to endure, maintain his stamina, and keep strong so he would eventually see his vision come into reality.

On another occasion, the Italian sculptor Agostino d’Antonio, worked diligently on a large piece of marble. Finally however, after much effort, he quit in disgust and was heard to say, “I can do nothing with this!” Other sculptors tackled the piece of marble but gave up also.

There was however, one more sculptor to try his hand at the seemingly insurmountable project. That someone was Michelangelo. When he saw the unfinished statue, he studied it for a while, mapped out a plan and began to work. Four years later the world laid eyes on one of the greatest pieces of work ever sculpted — Michelangelo’s “David.”

The colossal figure of “David” started in 1501 was finally completed in 1504. It stood a towering 14 feet 3 inches and was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio.

The master Michelangelo knew how to keep the big picture in view.

A North American version of someone who kept the big picture in mind was Gutzon Borglum. He was the sculptor who pictured and chipped away for years on the four faces found carved in the granite of Mount Rushmore. Just like Michelangelo before him, Mr. Borglum saw the big picture long before he blasted his first chunk of stone to start the tedious process of carving the intricate details of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson.

President Coolidge dedicated Gutzon’s work as he began in 1927 but the faces would not be finished for another 14 years. Unfortunately, Mr. Borglum died in March of 1941 having never seen the finished work with his own eyes. His son Lincoln took over the project and completed the work for the world to marvel at for generations to come.

Did Gutzon see the finished work? He most certainly did! He saw it in the imagination of his mind in such vivid detail as to inspire both himself and his son to work tirelessly until it was completed.

Enduring adversity and a long difficult struggle whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual or mental, is not easy. What makes it possible to endure a difficult struggle is a vision of the big picture. A vision of what is being produced through the struggle or as a result of the struggle.

When you see the big picture you see:

  • Your situation from the 30,000 foot level
  • The good you are accomplishing with your life
  • The reward you will receive in the next life
  • The example or testimony you are giving to your family and friends
  • The growth in character you are experiencing because of the struggle
  • Every ounce of effort counting because with effort you inspire others

What statue you are carving with your life?
When discouraged and ready to quit, what keeps you going?
What is the big picture you see as a result of your life?

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About Cam Taylor

I'm help people live inspired, focused and tenacious lives. I work as a coach, facilitator, author, and speaker.
This entry was posted in Adversity, Attitude, Character, dreams, Endurance, Growth, motivation, Optimism, Pain, Perspective, purpose, suffering and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Magic of the Big Picture

  1. Greg says:

    You must have been reading The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone recently. Very insightful and helpful perspective Cam.

  2. Alan Adams says:

    My big picture as a preacher/teacher is expressed in Ephesians 4:13 kjv: “Till we all come….unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” My distraction is in the demands of other, seemingly inevitable assignments, which dissolve my progress toward that goal…or do they? The mighty Son of God served as a carpenter for many years, nearly ten times as many years as he invested in public ministry.

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