I Am Small
I tend to be a bit of a monk. Which doesn't actually mean anything other than that I like to spend time alone every once in a while. Some people think it's weird that I turn off the lights in my office and just sit there. Alone. I thoroughly enjoy it.
One of the reasons I like to be alone is because it's in moments where I'm most alone that I'm most with God. I connect with Him better when I'm alone. So I've created rhythms in my life where I go and spend time alone with Him.
A while ago, as part of this rhythm I went camping. By myself.
I packed up my bag, our smaller tent and enough hot dogs to feed a small army and headed out to Fish Lake. It's a small, beautiful, though uncreatively named, lake in the mountains. It's one of our favorites.
I arrived in the afternoon, set up my tent and decided to go for a walk.
I discovered that there's actually a small trail that goes all the way around the lake. It was only a 45 minute hike or so, so I figured why not? I'll walk around the lake, then head back to my site and eat some hot dogs for supper. And for bedtime snack.
So I trundled along the path, enjoying the sunshine. The birds were chirping, some kayakers were paddling around and blabbering loudly. It was thoroughly enjoyable.
I marched past the border of the campground, and found the trail was very well maintained. I hit the property of a summer camp and took a moment to enjoy the quiet lake dock before I continued my little pre-hot dog adventure.
I rounded a bend and the trees grew a little thicker, the trail became a little less well maintained, and the voices of the kayakers grew distant. As I became aware of these slight changes, I had a sudden realization.
I was alone.
I was alone. In bear country. In the mountains. In the fall. In my shorts. With only a water bottle and my car keys.
By the time I realized how poorly I had planned this excursion I was already halfway around the lake. The first half had been warm and friendly. Birds and kayakers and whatnot.
The second half was more isolated. It was quiet, cool, and ominous. I realized that I was presenting myself as a delicious snack to any bear or cougar that might happen across this same path I was on.
At this point I had a choice. I could head back the way I came, which would mean turning my back on the dark, deep forest with who knows what lurking inside. Or I could continue forward, bravely facing the inherent danger and foolishness.
I pulled out my car keys and jingled them to do my best imitation of a bear bell, though admittedly that was for my own comfort to cut the silence, and then I pressed forward. I debated running, but I figured if a bear was going to eat me, it would catch me regardless.
As I made my way around the lake, glancing over my shoulder in fear, I came to the conclusion that I am very, very small.
When I'm at home with my laptop, my phone, my warm house, and my electricity, I can feel larger than life. I have the world at my fingertips! Bears? Ha! I say child's play!
But when I was out in the bush. Alone. With nothing but my trusty car keys and a water bottle, I felt very powerless and small.
The truth of the matter is that, I am small. And so are you.
I don't mean that as an insult, but it's our reality. We are very much empowered by our world and our wonderful inventions. We can feel like we have all the control in the world, like we're the apex predator, like there is nothing that could touch us.
But we are small.
We feel like we're in control, when the reality is that there is very little in our lives we're actually in full control over. Sure, I can decide what I post on Facebook today, but I can't really decide if I keep breathing.
There is so much in my life for which I'm dependent on others or on God. I just can't do it on my own. I am very small. But I know that the God who loves me is big.
Tomorrow night, set aside the dishes for just a moment and go step outside. Turn off the outside lights and if it's a clear night, stare up at the stars for a few minutes. Try staring at these little dots of light in the night sky for five minutes.
If you ever want to know how small you are, look up at the night sky.
Consider that our entire planet is just a speck amongst these pinholes of light. And you are a speck on the speck. You are small.
As I later stood by the fire that night while camping alone, (I didn't get eaten.) the stars struck me and reinforced the same thought as when I was walking through the woods. Not the fear, but the awe at how big our world is, and how incomprehensibly small I am.
In my smallness I know that there is nothing that I can truly do on my own. I like to joke that I could fight a bear, but honestly that confrontation would be embarrassingly one-sided. I'm not big enough, I'm not strong enough. I like to think that I can lead people to Jesus all by myself, but honestly, I've seen time and again that usually, I have nothing to do with it.
How do we actually do anything then? How do we move the ball forward in our lives and in our faith?
First and foremost, I need the Holy Spirit to work in and through me. If I'm not relying on God to do the work it's just going to fail. There's no other option. I can fake it for a while, but it eventually collapses and I pay the price. And so do the people around me.
I need to consistently be praying that the Holy Spirit would work through me, and that I would allow Him to do so.
Second, I need a healthy community to surround me. I need others to work alongside if I'm going to serve well. I need people in my life who help me wade through the challenges life brings. I need someone who will come and pull the bear off of me. I need a team.
I need to consistently be praying that I would be surrounded by people who will point me to Jesus, and will fight the bears with me.
I am so very small. I need to recognize that. There is nothing particularly special about me, but the God who created me works in my life and equips me to serve Him. And the people in my life point me to Jesus and help me to serve Him well beyond what I could on my own.
I am small. I am a speck in the universe. But my impact doesn't have to be. I am very small. But I know that the God who loves me is big.