He ran up ahead of me, the sound of gravel crunching under sandals joining in chorus with the water cascading down rocks beside us. “A waterfall! Mom! A waterfall!”
His little brother followed close behind. “Oh!! A waterfall!” his little voice squealed. The baby fidgeted in the hiking pack strapped to my back. I could feel his eagerness to explore as I unstrapped the pack and set him down to his adventures.
I could see it reflected in their eyes within the shapes of mountain peaks and aspen—wonder. I’ve witnessed it more and more since our move to the Rockies. The boys have these certain looks, smiles, a depth in their eyes, reserved for those holy moments when their spirit is overwhelmed by wonder. And as I’ve witnessed these moments of awe pouring forth like a flower at the height of its bloom, I have felt small. Magnificently small.
“Mom! This is our playground!” Our oldest yells back to me when he spots a meadow of trees rich with just-the-right-climbing-height branches. As I watch them balance across the dark, twisted trunk of a felled pine tree, or observe them scaling boulders six times taller than their tiny frames, I see them beholding something larger than I could ever offer. This is beauty I could never create for them. This is peace I could never devise of my own ideas. This is imagination I could never inspire. This is play I could never coordinate. This is awe I could never script.
I can only bring them to where these things are found, and set them down straight into the midst of God’s glory.
And the more their tiny hearts grasp of this magnificence, the more they want. Mystery, artistry, intrigue, delight– it draws them. The encounter with glory and beauty transcending anything they’ve ever known or seen—these experiences tug at their hearts; tell them this is right. This is good. This is the work of their Creator.
It’s not lost on me that since our recent move, my words have been infused with talk of the mountains. They are kind of my thing. And I’m curious—what is your thing? What is that one piece of creation that, when you encounter it, it steals the breath right out of your lungs?
What is that one thing that makes everything insignificant fade from your thoughts?
What is that one thing that makes you feel small?
I see it as my boy kicks at pebbles next to the stream, towering summits meeting together as his backdrop. He looks tiny. And right there, small in the midst of grand, he is most happy. And I find the same is true of myself.
In a world that touts largeness and praises grandeur and acclaims loud—I find that true peace is found where I feel smallest. This is where perspective shifts, and anything without lasting value loses its allure.
This is where glory overshadows the distractions that pull me every which way, and shines light on the path to true significance.
This is where we find joy in servanthood, peace in letting go of our expectations, and purpose in making His name known….not ours.
This is where we discover that we don’t have to do it all. He has, and He will.
This is where we find comfort and refuge, knowing the One who commands the wind and waves. The One who feeds the sparrow and clothes the flower. The One who knit us together, and said of us, very good.
When did you last feel as small as that child lost among the lilies of a vast meadow? When did you last come face to face with your own smallness, and God’s largeness? Perhaps that is where peace awaits, where God’s glory shines light on our own smallness, and we discover relief. Relief from the pressure and push and strive and fear. Maybe this is where we find room to breathe and trust in the only One with power greater than our impossibilities, and love deeper than all of our wanderings.
I suppose, “He must increase but I must decrease” was meant not only as instruction, but also as gift. That as we let go of any boasting or striving of our own accord—when we let go of having big influence, making big money, chasing big dreams, or building a big name—then we discover His big blessing.
And perhaps we will only begin to discover these things when we find ourselves standing next to a fourteen-thousand foot mountain, or dipping our toes into an ocean with depths beyond our comprehension. Or maybe we’ll sense it as we stare into the eyes of our newborn child, or lay on a bed of pine needles and stare up into the Redwoods, or sit in a graveyard surrounded by headstones telling of unthinkable stories authored by a skilled and gracious Creator.
This place of smallness; this thing that brings you to your knees and in a moment jolts everything back into perspective—chase after it with great abandon. Don’t let it out of your sight. Set your eyes on where you encounter God’s glory, and run straight ahead. Chase this feeling of small. Pursue what makes His name big. And wherever you find it, sit down, settle in, be renewed, and return often.