Three experiences recently have left me "feeling small." By this I mean they've reminded me that I'm not master of my destiny, the head honcho, or the big cheese (not that I struggle overmuch with these misconceptions, but the gravity of our fallenness does tend in this direction, does it not?).
The first experience was last weekend as once again our neighborhood welcomed to its skies the planes of the local airshow. I was delighted and awed (as were many) by the F-18 and F-16 fighters as they maneuvered above us. Their sheer, screaming power as they soared in grace and beauty, their turns arcing precisely, these moved me deeply. Why? I've come to wonder if it is a foretaste of glory, a tiny sip of what it will mean for me one day be engulfed in awe of God, the One who is sheer power, grace, and beauty, awesome, overwhelming, and yet, irresistibly attractive. I felt small. But it was a good small.
The second experience was riding bikes yesterday with a friend up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. In the best of situations, this ride is a challenge (it tops out at over 12,000', rising up close to 5,000' from the floor of Estes Park); but yesterday it was epic and potentially life-threatening. As we rode up in temperatures just below 50 degrees, the wind increased, so much so that when we rose above treeline to 11,000 feet, the wind speeds, we estimated, were close to 60mph. Try riding a bike in that! Wisely, we turned around. But try descending 17 miles in winds and wind chills like those! We had to stop repeatedly. We walked our bikes in portions (so as not to be blown off the road) and we dangerously edged close to hypothermia. Down at the bottom, taking refuge in the visitor center, we were shaking uncontrollably and deeply grateful to be back down safely (not to mention alive). Very scary time. We felt small in the face of nature's power. But, ultimately, it was a good small, in that we were reminded of our essential reliance on God's grace and protection in all things.
The third experience is the Four Mile Canyon fire still raging just a few miles to the northwest of the church. Over 7000 acres have burned since yesterday morning. Over 3,000 people have been evacuated. To date, at least 63 structures, including homes, have burned. Church families are affected and our community is on edge. Slurry bombers roar overhead to drop fire retardant on the blaze. It's a scary time for so many. I/we feel small and vulnerable in the face of winds, fire, and life's unpredictability.
It's not always bad to feel small, especially if it leads us to depend more fully and consistently on the One who is big. I'm so grateful that in this One's hands, we are secure and that nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:38-39).