So many of my mornings offer up a sherbet’s swirl of sky, and many a morning I’ve pointed my daughter’s eyes upward to point out a truth that moves me: God could have just given us sky, but he worked hard to make it beautiful. When he wove the world together, he was sure to sweat the small stuff, punctuating the larger things of life with smaller gifts in form and appearance. And the sky is but one example of this, of course. Think on how God’s gone one mile more with so much of creation. He could have just given us fish, birds, grass, and soil – the wind and the rain and the trunk of a tree. But he gives us –
the rainbow sheen of a fish’s flank
the iced hue of the blue jay’s hood
the tear of dew at the tip of every arced blade in the morning
the hopeful kelly green of the shoots teased from the earth by the sun after a cruel winter and a fickle spring
the careful spacing between reedy fronds, encouraging bands of light to dance on a wall when the sun pushes its way through some swaying fern
the way an afternoon rain interacts the surface of the pond, creating rich rhythm – a lullaby when a single measure of music can’t be played
the trembled lines of a trunk’s rings, marking each year of the tree’s existence and wooing whomever counts them to think back five years – ten – to what was said then, what was done then, how life was lived then
All this and as the shades are drawn on any given day – another sherbet swirl.
And when the shades are drawn altogether, a billion pinpoints of light, winking at us as we blink ourselves to sleep.
Nothing big in our world was left by God as merely serviceable. He made it all stunning, taking up the mantle of a rather determined artist, brow creased in concentration, always touching up the edges of each work with smaller hints of vibrancy and verve. And these smaller things are no small thing, really. Because God’s sweating the small stuff – that each day our breath might be taken away, our eyes filled with tears, our hearts left racing, our very being, being drawn back to him – is perhaps, aside from his Son, the greatest apologetic we have for his love of us.
Beauty in the small, indeed.
Brownies are in no way a meal, but they are of the Lord. So, I’m going to talk brownies with nary a blush. Not too long ago, my wife started adding a small touch (see what I did there?) to an otherwise simple batch of brownies that is nothing short of wonderful – and it’s terribly easy to pull off. All you and I have to do is grab an ordinary, run-of-the-mill brownie mix, mix it all up according to the instructions provided, and pour half the mix onto an eight-inch baking pan. And here, my friends, is where the “small touch” comes into play. Cover the initial layer of spread brownie mix with tiles of Hershey chocolate bars. (If you want to go next-level, cover the initial layer of spread brownie mix with tiles of Hershey Symphony bars to add a touch of toffee to the whole affair.) Once you’ve covered that initial layer of brownie mix, pour the remaining mix over top it, and follow the rest of the box’s instructions with regard to baking. When you eat the finished product, I suspect you’ll find that this small touch is no small thing.
Any time I think on creation’s endless capacity to show both the glory and charity of God, I think of Rich Mullins’ “Calling Out Your Name.” I will never grow tired of this song. You can give it a listen – and watch some stunning time-lapse imagery – here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_enljD4380
God, you could have made creation merely serviceable, but you made it stunning. For this I give you thanks. And I ask that you would give me the eyes to see the smaller touches of your creation, and as I see, help the eyes of my heart know the depth of your love for me and my neighbor. Amen.
Your assignment is simple, really: Step outside the walls of your living space, and take in the swath of creation before you, looking for those smaller touches that stun you silent with their loud messages of God’s glory and charity. It’ll be good for your soul. But don’t keep the discoveries to yourself. Either today or tomorrow or someday soon, invite over a neighbor or two – for a meal (or Brownies) – and in a manner that feels wholly natural, point out the smaller beauties that blur together to form a vast and hopeful statement. It’ll be good for their soul, too.