My head, a bump on a vast sheet of water, was so tiny that a blind deity running his finger over the surface would have missed that mark of human braille. I was in the Gulf of Mexico, far from shore, feeling to the very core of my being how seemingly insignificant I am. I swam out here to see how far I could swim, to test my limits. That’s so like a man, isn’t it, always wanting to prove himself, show how tough he is? Yet now that I’m floating in this expanse that belittles me, I see clearly, as if my whole body were an eye, that all I’ve proven is that I do have limits, that I am mortal, that I’m not nearly as tough as I like to think I am. In fact, as the waves sing their songs about my ears, I hear their splash as a dirge, a sad song of death for this human who, at any moment, could be swallowed by the sea and the world would go on without skipping a beat.
Most of us do not spend our lives daydreaming of accomplishing an immortal feat, some deed that will chisel our names into the stone of human history, so that we’ll be a household name for generations to come. Most of us would be happy just to be remembered while we’re still alive. It’d be nice if our children would call once in a while to acknowledge our existence. It’d be nice to be missed by someone when we’re not around. It would make us feel useful, needed, important, when most of the time we feel as insignificant as a tiny bump on the surface of the ocean we call humanity. If we died of a heart attack today, or were a thirty second story on the evening news about a head-on collision on I-35, then tomorrow the sun would still rise, people would still go to work, the world would go on without us as if nothing had changed, because we had never been vital to its existence anyway.
As I floated in the Gulf of Mexico, I looked around me at the waters that went on and on; I looked up at the vast expanse of the sky; I felt the waves lapping at my skin, mocking my mortality; and I whispered a word of defiance in the face of it all. I was surrounded by seeming lies, so I spoke the word of truth.
I said to the waters that, vast though they are, they are but a drop in my Father’s hand. He rules over the oceans, He commands the streams, He is the God of the waters. And in this world, He beckons these waters to serve me, His child. He makes the rivers clap their hands when I am baptized into Christ in the Jordan of the font. He makes the oceans sing Hallelujah as I am buried beneath them, submerged into the flesh of my Creator, and rise above the surface again a new man, recreated in the image and likeness of God.
I said to the heavens that, vast though they are, they are servants of the Lord of the skies, who sits enthroned upon them. In this world, my Father makes the sun to shine upon me by day, the moon and stars by night. They exist to light my path, to warm my skin, to direct my ways. The sun refused to shine, was eclipsed by sorrow, when the Son of God stretched out His arms to welcome the darkness of sin into His crucified body. The heavens tell of the glory of God, and the glory of God is a living man; their expanse declares the work of His hands, and the crown jewel of His work was a man and woman who served as the king and queen of all created things, from whose royal lineage I, a man, have been born.
As I floated in the Gulf of Mexico, I spoke these truths, but it was not the waters or the heavens that needed to hear them. It was me. I am the one who so often believes the lie that I am unimportant. I am the one who forgets who I really am.
Who am I? Who are you? We are only creatures under heaven with whom God united Himself. He was not born a dog or a tree but a man. Let that sink in. Of the millions upon millions of creatures, only one can look up to the throne of God and say, “He who sits there is my Brother, my own flesh and blood, who is as I am.” Who are we? Sibling of the Son of God, who became fully us that we might become fully Him.
We are the ones, the only ones, whom God loved so much that He was willing to go to whatever extremes it took to ensure that we were never separated from Him. If that meant being rejected by the very ones He came to save, so be it. If that meant enduring hunger and thirst and loneliness and hatred, so be it. If that meant suffering the whip and the hammer and the spit and the blood, so be it. If that meant death itself, He was ready. Bring on the cross. Bring on the grave. Bring it all on, for God would not lose us. He would have us as His own, come hell or high water, for nothing in all creation means more to God than you.
We are more than useful to God; we are more than important, more than significant. We are everything to Him. He saw me floating in the Gulf of Mexico, smiled, and said, “There is my son, for whom I was willing to die. I love that boy more than He will ever realize.” He sees you in your happiness and sorrow, your loneliness and despair, your ever waking and sleeping moment of life, and He says, “There is my son, there is my daughter. Your name is tattooed onto my palms, ever before me. I know every detail of your life. I count the hairs on your head. I bottle your tears. I was thinking of you on a Friday, long ago, when the nails were driven through my skin and bones into the wood of that cruel cross. And I said to myself, ‘I love you this much. Indeed, I love you even more.’”
It is this divine love that defies all lies that tell us that our existence is futile, that life is meaningless. The man on the cross, who is the Lord of all, who shares our nature, who gives us His everything, He tells us who we are. We are the beloved children of God.
If you’d like to read more reflections like this one, check out my new book, Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons. If you’re looking for feel-good, saccharine devotional material, you’d better keep looking because you’re not going to find it here. If you’re looking for moralistic guides to the victorious Christian life, you’ll be thoroughly disappointed by all the Gospel in this book. But if you’re looking for reflections drenched in the Scriptures, focused through and through on the saving work of Jesus Christ, and guided by a law-and-Gospel approach to proclamation, then I daresay you’ll be pleased with this book. Purchase your copy by clicking on CreateSpace or Amazon. And thank you!