We live on a rock that is rotating at a speed of over 1,000 miles per hour. At the same time, it careens through space at 67,000 miles per hour. Our little pebble has bore witness to an estimated 106 billion human births; 7 billion (as of March 2012) are currently alive.
Seven billion people. At this very moment, there are seven billion lives being lived, and each one is held prisoner within the confines of their own perspective and identity. Each one of those lives are rubbing and bumping against the lives next to them. Relationships are forged, ideas are shared, and over time perspective and identity shifts. All of us together. All of us separate.
Have you ever tried to contain the entire scope of life into your mind? It’s too big. It’s like trying to envision a forest. You might be able to see a trunk, maybe even several. But when you close your eyes and try to watch as the trunks begin to spread out into branches, and those branches reach out into twigs, and from those twigs come leaves, and then those leaves begin to shake and sway in the breeze… It’s all just too much. So we learn to keep our heads down and focus on the things in front of us. We develop a shell that protects us when the wind blows and the trees begin to bend.
Recently, an acquaintance of mine suffered a huge tragedy when his 29 year old wife passed away silently in her sleep. Leah and I went to the viewing to give our condolences. We didn’t know the husband or the wife terribly well, but the closer we grew to the casket, the larger the lump in our throats grew. When I reached the widower, all I could do was squeak out “I’m so sorry.” He wrapped his arms around me and we stood for a few moments crying.
I love my life. I love what it is, and what it has potential to become. More than anything, though, I love my relationship with Leah. That night Leah and I found ourselves lying in the dark, talking about the fragility of life with tears in our eyes. In order to be normal, productive human beings, you have to have a shell that stops us from thinking about the fact that we could die at any moment. We are so fragile, and yet we plod on with nary a thought about the razor’s edge we walk at all times. At our conversation’s conclusion, it was three-thirty AM and we found ourselves stripped from our shells. For a period of about three days we were tender, we were nervous. We were terrified that it was all going to end.
But… in time we both noted that shell was growing back. It had to. If it didn’t we’d be bedridden puddles of human flesh barely able to crawl to the bathroom to hose ourselves off.
The shell serves a purpose… But what happens if the shell gets too thick? Too hard? The time we spent out of our shells was nerve-jangling. Like our souls were chewing on tin foil. But… In that time, I think God felt just a little closer. I found myself relying more on him to keep Leah and I safe; to trust that he was going to safeguard this world we’ve created together. And maybe that’s a good thing?
Sometimes we become so enamored with the world in front of us, we forget about what’s happening around us. Seven billion of us share space on this planet… Just us, and an omnipresent benevolent force that desperately wants to know us on a personal and intimate level.
God is here. With us. He’s reading this blog over your shoulder, he’s sitting in the passenger seat of your car, he’s moving inside of you, waiting for the moment when he needs to burst forth from your words and reveal himself to someone around you. There are seven billion of us, and God wants to know us all. God wants us to talk to him. God wants us to give him our problems. And, I think God wants to give us good things.
God wants us to have good things, but not necessarily easy things. Sometimes we go through horrible experiences and we turn our eyes towards the sky and ask God “Why?”, but we can’t see through our shell to the omnipresent God that is weeping right next to us. I don’t know why. I don’t get it. I think sometimes bad, awful, horrible things happen and we say that God did it for a reason, when in reality the fact is we live in a broken place and nothing is guaranteed.
What I do know is that sometimes in order to catch a glimpse of God, in order to feel his comfort, in order to hear his whisper, we have to come out from our shells. Even though they’re safe and comfortable, we have to be willing to face the ridiculously huge scope of the universe so that we can hear the still small voice. Sometimes we have to strip away the things that make us feel secure so that we can find our safety in Him.