“Look, mom! A cowboy is a that place.”
“Why is that lady wearing a scarf?”
My son has begun a great human passtime: people watching. And at the best of all peoplewatching places: the airport. As we sat in the terminal on an unexpected Standby adventure, I marvelled with him at the huge array of people trying to get from our airport to their final destination. There was a nervous mom with her emergency passport in hand trying to get to France to visit her study abroad son in the hospital. This was her second time flying. There was a young, smart-looking business man who had recently relocated and had his first child. There was a group of giddy college girls on their way to Rome. A British couple who had been trying to get home for three days after visiting family and having gone fishing for the first time in their lives. (Their grandson also likes Spiderman.)
And then there are the people who leave it to your imagination their backstory. People who don’t engage in small talk or speak loudly enough on their cell phones for you to learn their struggles. Is that well dressed woman depressed because she’s been delayed from getting home to her family, or is something in her family causing the deep frown on her face? Where has that tatooed man been? What is behind each of those fading pictures on his limbs?
Each of us has a lifetime of experiences and habits and decisions we bring with us. What struck me as I looked at the masses of in-transit folks yesterday was the fact that there is a God who knew each of these people (and every one at every other airport in the world, AND even those who have never seen an airport!) before they were even born. This God understands each better than they understand themselves, in all their compexities. He knows each moment they were actually doing great good when they thought they blew it, and each time they thought they had it all together and were actually injuring others. He sees beyond each action to its eternal consequences. And He has enough love to fill each individual heart to overflowing.
I don’t know how we got on the subject, but one day Isaac and I got on the subject of God, most likely following the Veggie Tales in which Bob and Larry sing about God being bigger than the Boogeyman. He would ask, “Is God bigger than that building?” Yes, he is bigger. “Than an elephant?” Yep, he’s much bigger. And so on. But God is also small enough to fit into a piece of bread and into our hearts. “How can God be bigger AND smaller?” A beautiful mystery indeed.
How often we make God so small when we consider him only in relation to our own problems, which keeps us from remembering the importance of our neighbor in God’s eyes. At the same time we make him too big to ever care about us or to believe he has enough time to fit into lives, and therefore we shut him out of the work he wants to do our in our lives. Next time we are people watching, let’s take a minute to remember God’s bigness, his smallness and what that means for our spiritual lives.