Big and Small
l was a first-grade teacher for two years after I graduated from college. Teaching turned out not to be a good fit for me but I have some good memories from those 2 years. First-graders love their teachers, practically idolize them. Once, a child stood near me while I took a drink from the drinking fountain. When I finished, he said, “Wow! Teachers drink water?!” Ha ha!
I thought of that little incident when I was wondering about God and who he is. In my Christian tradition, we often say, “fully God and fully human.” Lately, I’ve been marveling about how I feel great awe when I think about God as fully human. You would naturally think that awe would come when you think about him as fully God-this Higher Power, this Creator Father, the God who made heaven and earth, who holds the whole world in his hands. And I do feel awe when I think of that “big God.” When I see waves of mountains under a beautiful sky with radiating beams from the sun behind the clouds, I’m awestruck. Or the coastline with ocean waves crashing and foaming onto enormous rocks. Or a black sky with bright star points and the Milky Way like a messy rainbow arcing above me. God is magnificent, mysterious, enormous, and awesome.
But I am struck with awe, too, when I imagine Jesus as a friend walking beside me, listening as I tell him about what’s going on in my life. Or when I imagine standing behind Mary, watching her holding that tiny baby Jesus who started as a zygote in her uterus. Or when I see Jesus walking on the beach calling to his friends in the fishing boat to put their nets on the other side. Or when I imagine Jesus in unbelievable pain on the cross. Or after he comes back to life, looking at his friend crying for him, and saying with such love, “Mary.” God is a human who “moved into the neighborhood,” who ate and walked and hurt and felt frustrated and happy and sad, who was a kid and then a grown-up like I watched happen with my kids.
Why would imagining Jesus so human cause awe? Maybe it’s like that little first-grader watching his god-like teacher do that humble, human thing of drinking water from a fountain. What?! God was a little kid who ran around playing with his friends? How can he be that huge, mysterious, magnificent God AND that small, homely human like me or you? I have a friend who talks about God #1 and God #2 that speaks to what I’m saying. These two beings are like two different creatures. Yet they are one. (Well, 3 in 1, but we won’t go into the Trinity right now.)
This is a little more theological than I usually get in these “emails of God’s love.” I wanted to share my wonder with you. Because even though there’s this thing about God that doesn’t make sense, these seeming contradictions of a big God and a “small” one, the best part is that whether we’re marveling at God’s enormousness or thinking of his humble human-ness, the amazing, awesome thing is that he loves us.
The magnificent, mysterious God you see reflected in the glories of the universe around you AND the friendly, human person you see walking beside you LOVES YOU. He doesn’t need or want you to feel like you’re a tiny nothing in the light of his immense everythingness. He doesn’t need or want you to fawn all over him in the light of his incredible act of becoming a human. He loves you. He is glad you exist. He is sad when you’re sad and delighted when you’re happy. He won’t make your life perfect; bad things will still happen because we are in the in-between time, after he first came, lived, died, and came back to life and before he comes again and makes a new, perfect creation. But when those bad things happen to you, he is right beside you, in you, all around you. His love envelopes you, even when you’re feeling like he must not be around because things are so bad and you don’t feel him.
As we celebrate Christmas, the moment that big God became that small human, we can remember that God loves us, no matter what. He loves you.
Originally published at https://www.mavismoon.com on December 22, 2021.