When I am worried, shaken, or my fears are ruling the day, I often turn to the Psalms to remember my significance in a chaotic world. My favorites are the ones that have to do with God the Artist of the universe flinging stars into the sky and at the same time tenderly taking care of stars and sparrows and small things like you and me.
A hearty walk outside in any kind of weather is another way to rearrange my heart. So far, even during this time of social distancing, I am keeping up my rhythm of a daily walk outside. It seems so small, but a few days ago, early in the morning light, I took off toward a spot where I can catch the sunrise over Mount Hood. It was cold so I was walking fast with my beanie head turned down. As I rounded the corner where I know at the end of the street I can catch a wide view of the mountain on a clear day, I saw the moon shining through a clear patch of blue sky like a wink and a nudge. I stopped to study the moon’s face in all her thousand shades of pearly white. But the glow of the rising sun was spreading across the far horizon. I took off running.
When I got to the clearing at the end of the street, I sat winded on a railroad tie with the first rays of sunlight on my face. It warmed my cold bones to remember that God has the whole world in his hands. That might sound cliche and I admit it doesn’t always feel as clear in these days of the corona virus as it did on that day. Still, it is God’s honest truth. These are the days to work out your faith by counting on it even more. And I don’t only mean His shaping of the mountains. In Psalm 8:3-8 David is thinking about his place in the world,
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place, 4
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor. 6
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet: 7
all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, 8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
I sat there marveling at the sunrise honeyed over the snowy mountain and felt small and perhaps a bit insignificant which is why I turned to Psalm 8. Paul quotes part of this Psalm in the book of Hebrews, reminding his readers that God made Jesus lower than the angels for a little while. Jesus has been here on this Earth, walking dirty roads, watching the moon shine and the sun rise, eating bread, sleeping under the same net of stars, touching blind eyes, and facing human fears. He is still with us. I might have lost my breath chasing Him on that cold bright morning, but He caught me.
All around me on my way home, the world was waking up - birds swooped and sang overhead, purple crocus peeked out of cold dirt, the garbage truck rolled along its neighborhood route picking up trashcans, a train whistle cried in the distance. I turned back down my street and there just below the laurel hedge, the one with an old rusty mailbox tucked into it’s leaves, I noticed a fallen sparrow. Even as my heart skipped a beat, I knew her Maker had seen her fall. Nothing is out of His sight. Nothing slips through His fingers. We might be small, but we are significant and oh so loved.
It is unsettling to have school cancelled, jobs on hold, income lost, empty grocery store shelves, and so many places shuttered until further notice. We have no idea exactly what this fearful and disruptive time holds or how long it will last here or around the world. These days may be unknown to us, but they and we are known by our Maker. The same loving hands that shaped the moon and stars shaped us. How significant and beloved we are to have had Jesus become one of us!
Modern mystic, Evelyn Underhill claims we have an “unguessed significance” and I think that’s true. I hope we catch a glimpse of it together.
“The Incarnation, means that the Eternal God enters our common human
life with the energy of His creative love, to transform it,
to exhibit to us its riches, its unguessed significance;
speaking in our own language,
and showing us His secret beauty on our own scale.”
I’m trusting God’s good intentions and creative love toward us when I can’t see the sun and moon in the same sky, even when the fog rolls in, or COVID 19.
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!