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Good to Be Small

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Dec 07 in Musings
I'm on vacation this week, and writing you on Wednesday from 40,000 feet on a plane to New York to spend a few days with all three kids. Our family adventure for this trip is to run a 15k race in Central Park together. We love NYC in complaints here if it snows a little!
After Sunday's amazing choir concert at FPCH, Anne and I scurried home, threw things in the car and drove up to Palm Springs. Monday morning we drove to Joshua Tree National Park. It was cold and blowy, but sunny and stunningly beautiful. We hiked up Mt. Ryan, the tallest point in the park. From 5400 feet, you get to see the whole park in panorama. Wow. Joshua trees, rock formations, desert landscape. Utterly breathtaking. 

We tarried on top of the windy mountain for a few minutes. Anne sat down to sketch and I just walked around the hilltop, taking it all in.  As far as I could see, it was uninhabited land. Occasionally the silvery ribbon of the park road was visible, with maybe a lone car traversing the miles. It's funny what you think about when it's so quiet. It crossed my mind that there were animals out in that expanse who never, in their entire lifetime, lay eyes on a human being. Their years pass hunting or gathering, roaming or burrowing according to their kind, begetting ancestors and raising families under the rhythmic watch of sun and moon. Only God knows they exist...the God who made them and said "this is good, so good."

Something about being in this huge, open space, with rock outcroppings and a wide sky made me feel very small. I was dwarfed by beauty. And, it seems to me...this is a good thing. When we exist in the urban sprawl, surrounded by people and traffic, obsessing over things and schedules and reputations, it's easy to think we are the center of the universe. Thank goodness we're not. Sheepish Job from the Old Testament learned this as well (though it took him 41 chapters): "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."  These are the words of a man who has learned that God is far bigger, the world is far more complex than he can know and he can rest in a smaller role.

None of us are the center of the universe and the sooner we realize it, the more ready we'll be for the coming of the One who is. 
Welcome to Advent.
 See you soon,
       Pastor Dan

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