The tragedy occurred December 29, 1972, when the macro view was lost by a focus on the micro view. Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 was a scheduled flight from New York JFK to Miami and was on approach to their destination near midnight. The fight had been routine. As they approached their landing and the landing gear was lowered, the cockpit crew noticed the absence of an illuminated green light. This was the identifying light confirming that the nose gear was properly locked in the “down” position. The experienced cockpit crew began focusing on the indicator light, set the plane on autopilot, and removed the light assembly to examine it. The flight engineer was dispatched to the flight deck below to confirm that the landing gear was indeed down. During the action in the cockpit, the auto pilot was accidentally disengaged, and the plane began a slow, unnoticeable decent. Then it was noticed that the plane had descended from the assigned holding pattern of 2,000 feet, and it was too late. Within 10 seconds the plane crashed into the Everglades. There were 101 fatalities, and only 75 passengers and crew survived. Why did this happen? The crew was focused upon a micro issue, the light bulb (which later was discovered to have burned out), and this overshadowed the macro issue – flying the plane! One of the key issues that fight instructors stress in their flight simulator classes is that someone has to fly the plane and not focus upon smaller things.
We live in a culture where it is easy to focus upon the micro view of life – the smaller details of living. The constant barrage of news in our media-saturated world causes many to lose sight of the macro view of life – the most essential details of life. A saying is often repeated, “Make the main thing, the main thing.” This is a great thought, but often overlooked by details that vie for our attention. Think of some of the micro details that easily capture our attention: a presidential election, a pandemic, social unrest, racial inequities and tensions, financial tensions, job loss and insecurity, emotional instability, and a hundred other issues. It is not hard to allow these to become the main thing that fills our vision.
Should we ignore the micro issues of life? No! However, they should never be allowed to distort or overshadow our vision of the macro issues of life – loving God and loving others. These were issues that Jesus declared as being most essential (Mark 12:28-34). These macro issues controlled the micro issues that entered Jesus’ life. Jesus was a man on a mission because he knew his macro goal was to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). In doing this he was loving who the Father loves (John 3:16) and loving people by providing for them an abundant life which God has for lost humanity (John 10:10). The micro issues were done by Jesus – dealing with people’s physical needs, displaying his divine authority, gathering followers, etc. They were, however, always subservient to his macro issues. Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me… for I always do what pleases him” (John 8:28-29).
An event occurring in the lives of two women who deeply loved Jesus illustrates this principle. He had come to their home (recorded in Luke 10:38-42). One, Martha, had a micro vision of life. She was consumed with the details of making sure their guest was fed an excellent meal and expended herself in that task. Her sister, Mary, had a macro view of life and wanted just to be with Jesus and learn everything he had to say. She was not focused upon the issues that her micro-focused sister was. There the conflict arose. Martha thought Mary was a slacker and that she was bearing the brunt of what “had to be done.” Jesus shared a perspective that Martha needed, “You are upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary discovered it – and I won’t take it away from her” (41-42 NLT). Was Jesus saying eating and nourishing the body were unimportant? No! He was stressing what was most important. Jesus was not about to die of starvation. God the Father’s macro plan for him was to die on a cross. Jesus was therefore not worried about where his next meal was coming from – he after all could create the meal! Jesus wanted to leave behind a well-equipped and informed disciple. Mary’s action was fulfilling that passion. Macro vision must always guide our micro vision.
It was A. W. Tozer who said, “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.” That is not just a future focus in heaven; it is a present focus while we live on earth. What is our view of life and how is it impacting the way we live life? Are we upset about issues that matter to us because we are micro viewers? Or are we relaxing in the bigger view of life – the macro view of life? May we live all of life for the glory of God and then filter the smaller details of life through that lens.