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For thousands of years, the North Star has been a steady point of light guiding sailors as they navigate the seas. “Look to the star,” they say, “and you’ll find your way home.” This image of a bright light guiding us is a great way for us to view our lives.
Numerous studies have shown how valuable it is for us to have a clear vision for our lives. Having a clear vision helps us identify our purpose in life. It gives us direction. It moves us to set goals—goals that can then become a reality. In short, having a vision can lead to a much more meaningful and fulfilling life.
As true as all of this is, it is just as true that we humans tend to get caught up in the details of life and lose sight of the big picture. When these details dominate our minds, our vision of who we want to become and of how we will get there isn’t just blurred; it’s forgotten.
Of course, the details are necessary and important. Nothing would ever get done without them. That project at work would remain just a dream. Our children wouldn’t have clean clothes to wear or breakfast to eat because Mom has spent all her time thinking about “the big picture.” Jesus, Martha, and her sister, Mary, would have starved if they had spent all of their time talking with no one preparing the food (Luke 10:38-42).
Obviously, a well-established vision is far more useful than a fuzzy, vague vision. So let me encourage you to set aside some time to begin thinking about your vision for the next year, for the next five years, and for your lifetime. In one of my graduate courses, we were given an assignment that I still do today: “What do you want to have written on your tombstone, and how will you get there?” In other words, what do you want to be and have accomplished by the time you die?
The Panorama. The Panorama, which is the central focus of this issue, is a tool that can help us establish a godly vision for our lives. It focuses on the four most important events in all of human history: creation, the life of Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the age of the Church, and the Second Coming of Christ. Each of these four events ought to be an integral part of our own personal vision because of its ability to shape the way we think and act.
Whenever I attend Mass, and in my personal prayer, the first thing I do is recall this Panorama. Looking at these four events helps me set my mind on our glorious God who loves us with his boundless love. It helps me draw closer to the Lord and it shapes the way I relate to people around me. It also helps me to remember that this world, as beautiful as it is, is not my home. It moves me to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
I hope you enjoy reading these articles on the Panorama. I hope you will try to integrate the Panorama into your personal vision for life. May the Lord bless you.