God is in the Details
July 27, 2011 § 8 Comments
I don’t usually think of God as being much of a meddler. You won’t find me blaming Him for my flat tire, or thanking Him for making Nordstrom have a sale. I try not to get hung up on decisions because I’m waiting for a sign, and I try not to use the words “I feel called to” unless I really, really, really mean them. I cringe when I hear someone say “Let me pray about it” when what they mean is “I really don’t want to.” I tend to fall pretty hard on the side of personal responsibility, free will, and the likelyhood of God saying “Just make a choice!” if He decides to weigh in on a subject at all.
I think we, and sometimes I, do God a disservice if we take this idea too far. When we become too focused on our own responsibility, our independence, our attitude, we can lose the beauty that is God doing tiny things. I think one of the things that makes God great, makes Him an artistic, attentive creator instead of a big has-been in the sky, is His love of nuance.
Think about the experts you know. There are the musicians who can hear the tiniest change in pitch, the perfect countermelody or harmony, the minuscule addition or adjustment that will take a piece of music from beautiful to breath-taking. There are master chefs who can balance dozens of subtle flavors and pair them, twin them, and group them to create things no one has ever tasted before. There are artists who can paint with incredible detail, replicate colors and surfaces flawlessly, and make you believe that what you’re seeing is real, or slightly better than real. The people who create passionately, who create because they love their creation, who create because they have a gift – those people are wildly in love with the details. They revel in the details. They delight in them. They perfect them.
They’re human, these creators. But they’re humans created in the image of God, a creator with unlimited potential, unlimited talent, unlimited love. How likely is it, then, that God did a one time hit at creation, decided it was good enough, and left it to fend for itself? If God the creator is anything at all like the creators He created, the symphony is never really finished, the recipe is never perfect, and the painting never quite done. I have to believe that He’s constantly crafting tiny details. I can imagine Him tending to the folding of flowers, orchestrating the dropping of a name, placing a phrase in just the right mouths to affect change. I can imagine Him covering the prayerful, reshaping the broken, and conducting thunderstorms with passionate artistry. I can image Him continuing to be present always, actively in this world He has created, simply because it is His nature. I can image Him as a bit of a process guy, and less of a product guy. I think He has a whole lot of holy fun.
But bad things happen, and good people suffer, and the world is dying, and why would an attentive God allow, or even cause that to happen? I don’t know. I don’t know His reasons, or how it all balances at the end of the day. I think He’s been pretty clear that He doesn’t love to see us suffer, hates it, in fact. Died to stop us from dying. I don’t know where the line is drawn, but I think we miss something great when we answer our questions with “Well, God doesn’t work like that anymore, because if He did, prayer would always work, seas would part, etc. etc.” I don’t think it’s an all or nothing situation.
I do think we know a few things for sure. We know our God has promised He’ll hear us when we call. We know we’ve been promised that He will be faithful to complete the good work He began. And we know He has the heart of a creator. If we don’t believe that God can work in small, daily ways, then we make Him smaller than I think He is. We also miss out on the wonderful habit of looking for the tiny ways in which we’ve been loved, the details in the fabric of our personal creation story, the inside jokes, and the relational, personal, detail-oriented work of a Master. We miss the bits that take this story from impressive to indescribable. We miss the chance to say thank you, for that thing that made me laugh, for that opportunity, for that random act of love, and this life becomes a much lonelier story.
Today I’m looking for the little things that make my God so very big. And rejoicing in knowing that they will be there, in abundance, to find.