Small and Smiling


I’ve been meditating on the 111th Psalm this week, throughout my trip to California. It’s such a wonderful poem! It’s fed my soul as I’ve basked in the beauty of God’s creation in Yosemite National Park (a truly magnificant revelation of His glory and majesty)… as I’ve participated in the Collegiate Church Planters Collaborative (meeting with the LORD’s godly people)… as I’ve struggled to sit through all the discussions of success stories, best practices, and helpful suggestions for how I could be doing things better (which really ought to be categorized as deeds of the LORD worth pondering, even though these sorts of things can rub me the wrong way)… and as I’ve continued contemplating my smallness.

I’m glad that God has humbled me — both in the past and in the present. Especially when I’m in the midst of such potentially-narcissistic pursuits as memoir-writing and marathon-training, it’s important for me to be less-than-enthralled with my reflection in the figurative mirror. And even though I’ve spent my whole life struggling with self-righteousness and smug judgmentalism (or perhaps because of this fact), I need to be continually reminded of my need for a Savior. So I’m a small man! Yes. Good. I do well to remember that Jesus sacrificed himself for small people like me.

At the same time, I don’t need to stay camped out at my smallness (past, present, and future). Humiliation is not ultimately the point of such reminders. Once my smallness has been established and accepted, my attention — and true, living hope — can be turned back to the LORD, who’s worked wonderfully in my life and sometimes even through my limitations. “How gracious and merciful is our LORD!” says the 111th Psalm. I’m tempted to lament all the ways I’ve damaged or interfered with the work of the LORD, but it’s good to be reminded that God is bigger than that! His greatness far overshadows my smallness. Even if I was hell-bent on resisting God’s work, antagonizing and opposing Him at every turn, I’d scarcely be able to make the tiniest dent in the negative! The LORD “has shown his great power to his people by giving them the lands of other nations. All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy.”

Small = Eric < God = Great. There’s nothing wrong with this equation!

Giant sequoias and sheer granite cliffs demonstrate my smallness are a wonderful witness to this fact. Unlike the aforementioned admissions of my smallness, there is no guilt, angst, or regret in admitting that I’m small in comparison to the Grizzly Giant and El Capitan! In fact, it’s really beautiful to let God be God and accept my place within His created realm. Somehow, just standing in the Mariposa Grove gave me a sense of peace. I might be small — but, look at those trees!!! I could never make one of those trees, but I can admire them and appreciate them as God’s handiwork. I can enjoy myself among them because of my smallness.

Big tree

I do want to grow and become at least a little less small. I want to walk in obedience and faithfulness — but I want to learn how to do this without feeding my own small self-righteousness. Instead of magnifying myself, I want to magnify the LORD. “What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!” He’s ransomed me, so all my beings and doings belong to him. In the end, I believe it’s good to aspire to great things — literary renown, multiplying generations of disciples, churches reaching into- and reclaiming societies that are not walking in his ways — but I care less and less about doing these sorts of things for my name’s sake (which, in all honesty, has been the most consistent motivation in my life) and more about doing them for the LORD’s name sake. Strangely, I feel that this shift in perspective simultaneously ups the ante by reminding me of the eternal significance that goes into every story I write, every sermon I preach, every relationship I develop — and it somehow decreases the pressure on me to perform! I give God my all, and he decides what to do with it.

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